Thom Kubli - Black Hole Horizon - Sound Art Installation
What kind of relations exists between oscillating air, black holes and soap bubbles?
Black Hole Horizon
Black Hole Horizon is a meditation on a spectacular machine that transforms sound into three-dimensional objects and keeps the space in steady transformation.
What kind of relations exists between oscillating air, black holes and soap bubbles? What effect does the sound of horns have on the human psyche and why is it present in various creation myths? What impact does gravity have on our collective consciousness? Where do spectacle and contemplation meet? Black Hole Horizon is a meditation on a spectacular machine that transforms sound into
three-dimensional objects and keeps the space in steady transformation.
The nucleus of the installation is the invention of an apparatus resembling a ship horn. With the sounding of each tone, a huge soap bubble emerges from the horn. It grows while the tone sounds, peels off the horn, lingers through the exhibition space and finally bursts at an erratic position within the room.
The complete sound art installation comprises three horns that vary in size and form according to their individual pitch and timbre. Visitors can walk through the room witnessing the transformation of sound into ephemeral sculptures, which last only for seconds before their material remains are deposited on the walls and floor.
How did the idea of “Black Hole Horizon” come to you?
Thom Kubli: A horn that emits soap bubbles as it plays notes is actually a simple image. At the same time, there’s something childlike and unreal about it—a fantastic potential. It intrigued me to find out if it’s technically feasible to turn this idea into a physical reality. The point of “Black Hole Horizon” is to transform sound into a three-dimensional object that can change the space by dint of its presence. Since giant soap bubbles constitute phenomena that are as fantastic as they are fleeting, and each one is totally unique, the space is being repeatedly redefined. Thus, sound art installation visitors are called upon to position their bodies in accordance with the resulting volumes.
It was important to me for the sound to have a material correspondence, not a virtual one. For a very long time, I’ve been coming to terms with translating sound into physical material—for instance, into biomass, a liquid or granulate. This type of transformation touched me in a very special way. It created a very direct aesthetic connection.
Polyurethane, acrylic, brass tubes, piano-wire, latex tubing | Further Materials: Steel barrels, perestaltic pumps, liquid tubing, servo motors, arduino, computer/MaxMsp, electronic wiring, air compressors, air tubing, soap bubble liquid | Dimensions: Variable; minimum extension: 50qm | Year: 2012-2017
Mechatronics: David Jaschik | CAD-Operator: Zackery Belanger | Production Support at EMPAC: Eric Lin, Peter Zhang, Eric Ameres | Special thanks to: Argeo Ascani and Johannes Goebel
Realized with kind support of EMPAC, Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Troy/New York
Thom Kubli (CH/DE) is an artist and composer in Berlin. His sound installations have run at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), the Transmediale (Berlin), Ars Electronica (Linz), Laboratorio Arte Alameda (Mexico City), Eyebeam (New York), EMPAC (EMPAC), the Akademie der Künste (Berlin) and at many other museums and galleries. In conjunction with his work, he’s been involved in many international collaborative undertakings with scientific institutions in the fields of computer science, materials science, sound art, biotechnology, architecture and psychiatry. His compositional pieces and experimental radio shows have been broadcast by many European stations including WDR, DLRK, DLF and the ORF–Austrian Broadcasting Company.