Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Jon Ronson,
Olivia Plender and Jacob Kirkegaard
Voiceover by Rob Young
Curated by Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Lina Dzuverovic
The Old Operating Theatre, London
17 November 2006
The Trans-Communication Lab was the closing event in the Radio Gallery series of events and radio programmes curated by Anna Colin, which explored radio as exhibition space. The event reversed the overall concept of Radio Gallery by re-imagining physical space as radio and setting up a 60-minute broadcast 'environment' in which a host of artists, researchers and journalists investigated and demonstrated live attempts at 'interdimensional' communication.
The term 'transcommunication' in the title references 'Instrumental Trans-communication', a term coined by the German physicist Professor Ernst Senkowski, to describe the technique of contacting spirits, using any electronic means in order to capture their images (ITC), or record their voices (EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena). In the context of this event the term transcommunication was used in a much wider sense, to include all modes of communication that fall outside of conventional methods of conveying information. Danish artist Jacob Kirkegaard performed live his technique of 'sonic time layering' in order to evoke the spirit of the space. Kirkegaard recorded the sounds of the Old Operating Theatre live, gradually layering the sound until the inner spirit of the space was to be evoked.
Carl Michael von Hausswolff also conducted a serial Spiricom transmission in order to investigate possible spiritual activity within the Old Operating Theatre, by performing a series of different combinations of 13 sine wave tones between 131 and 701 Hz and sending them, and possibly one or several spirits, across the room.
Journalist Jon Ronson read from his book The Men Who Stare At Goats (Simon & Schuster 2005). In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US Army. Defying all known accepted military practice - and indeed, the laws of physics - they believed that a soldier could adopt the cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. With first-hand access to the leading players in the story, in the book Ronson traces the evolution of these bizarre activities over the past three decades, and sees how it is alive today within US Homeland Security and post-war Iraq. At this event Ronson talked about the use of sound as a torture mechanism.
Olivia Plender performed a live ghost story.
Carl Michael von Hausswolff is a composer, visual artist and curator based in Stockholm, Sweden. His main tools are recording devices (camera, tape deck, radar, sonar) used in an ongoing investigation of electricity, frequency, architectural space and paranormal electronic interference. He is an expert in the work of Friedrich Jurgenson, electronic voice phenomena (EVP) a researcher who claimed to have detected voices of the dead hidden in radio static. Major exhibitions include documenta X (1997), the Johannesburg Biennial (1997), Sound Art - Sound As Media Tokyo ICC (2000), the Venice Biennale (2001, 2003 and 2005) and Portikus, Frankfurt (2004). Hausswolff received a Prix Ars Electronica award for Digital Musics in 2002. He is the curator and producer of freq_out.
Olivia Plender researches historical 'alternatives' to industrial society addressing two separate but parallel areas: Romanticism and non-conformist religious movements, and their current legacies. She produces drawings, posters and small-scale publications, as well as performances, lectures and installations. Recent work includes a comic book set in an imaginary London avant-garde of the past called The Masterpiece and Monitor performed at Tate Britain 2006. Plender is currently researching The Modern Spiritualist Movement and The Kindred Of The Kibbo Kift, two non-conformist religious movements from the 19th and early 20th century that overlapped with socialism, the Co-operative movement and the campaign for women's suffrage. Adopting the methodology of the sociologist as a kind of role-playing exercise, she has interviewed mediums, parapsychologists, as well as historians and staged events such as A Public Meeting To Address The Phenomenon Of Materialization at London's Bethnal Green Working Men's Club. She is currently writing a book on this area, titled A Stellar Key To The Summerland, to be published by Bookworks.
Jon Ronson is a prolific writer, journalist and documentary film maker. His first book, Them: Adventures With Extremists, became an international bestseller. He began his journalistic career as an award-winning columnist for Time Out. He has also written the popular Human Zoo and Out Of The Ordinary columns for The Guardian, where he contributes features. He produced the BBC Radio 4 documentary Hotel Auschwitz, and the Sony nominated Radio 4 series, Jon Ronson On.... He has also made acclaimed programmes for Channel 4 and BBC2.
Jacob Kirkegaard investigates sonic membranes and discrete interference occurring in different environments. A graduate of the Academy Of Media Arts in Cologne Germany, Kirkegaard has lectured on archaeological and spatial aspects of sound at the Academy Of Architecture in Copenhagen. His works include live performances, film music, installations and the compositions Soaked, a collaboration with Philip Jeck (Touch, 2002), 01.02 (Bottrop-boy) and Eldfjall (Touch, 2005). In his latest work for Touch, 4 Rooms (2006), Kirkegaard explores the sonic legacy of Chernobyl. Jacob Kirkegaard has been presented at The Museum Of Contemporary Art in Denmark, KIASMA in Finland, Kšlnischer Kunstverein, Gallery Rachel Haferkamp and at the Transmediale in Germany. He is also a member of freq_out.
Rob Young is Editor-at-Large at The Wire magazine and a contributor to Uncut, Frieze, Art Review, The Guardian and others. His latest book is Rough Trade: Labels Unlimited, published by Black Dog.
Anna Colin lives and works in London as an independent curator, critic and radio producer for Resonance 104.4fm. Recent projects include Radio Gallery 2006, radio.territories 2006 and Six Sites For Sound, 2005. Since early 2006, she's been involved in setting up and programming Canal (www.canalonvyner.org), a space for discussion and the presentation and exchange of artistic ideas. As a critic, she is the London correspondent for Art Press, Paris and a regular contributor to Untitled, London and Particules, Paris.
Trans-Communication Lab was made possible thanks to the financial support of The Elephant Trust and Arts Council England.