Magnetic Cities – Tallinn, 2011Photo Installation with Audio Guide, Commissioned for the gateways exhibition
Magnetic Cities—Tallinn is part of a new group of works by German sound artist Christina Kubisch in which she creates portraits of cities using photographs and electromagnetic sounds. Visitors to the photographic installation receive an audio guide, with which they can select and listen to the sound landscape for any given image. The images are not chosen for their touristic attraction but, rather, for their acoustic qualities. We hear the normally inaudible electromagnetic fields of a particular place; Kubisch causes these fields to resonate using specially developed headphones with a built-in induction coil. The resulting sounds can then be played back via the audio guide. The city center of Tallinn, with its staged romantic historical atmosphere, is suddenly overwhelmed with harsh sounds of wireless frequencies; the shopping malls are accompanied by loud beats; and the familiar bus station is filled with strange sounds that seem to come from a science fiction movie. The sounds have a strangely alien effect when connected with an image; they make it seem foreign, often discomfiting. Unlike its role in the classic museum visit, where an audio guide provides explanations for the works on display, here it confronts the visitor with unaccustomed acoustic information about the image, and thus with new associations and perceptual experiences. The visitor is challenged to rediscover the city as a magnetic site.
Christina Kubisch, Magnetic Cities – Tallinn | © Christina Kubisch