Artist Jacob Kirkegaard and sound art collective Call & Response have collaborated to create a sound installation that invites the audience to experience the hidden underworld of London’s water system.
The project takes the work of seventeenth century alchemist and scientist Athanasius Kircher as inspiration. Kircher was a polymath and inventor, who researched fields as diverse as medicine and Egyptology, and designed and constructed wondrous sound and vision automatons. These included a collection of so called speaking statues whose spiral mouths would lead out into the streets of Rome like giant trumpets. In this way the speaking trumpets or ‘hearing lens’ would reveal the cacophony of Rome to the listener. London Subterraneous aims to link Kircher’s ‘speaking trumpets’ with his fascination of geology and underground reverberations and find a way to explore London’s mundus subterraneous.
For this project, special microphones have been used to access sounds from a series of “stink pipes” that connect the city’s familiar terrestrial environment to a lesser-known complex network of sewers and rivers below. The towering, hollow pipes, now rusting fixtures dotted across London erected as safety valves to vent excess toxic gases along a newly built Victorian sewer network in the 1860’s allow us to connect through our past and eavesdrop on the capital’s underground world. The resultant exhibition is a portrait of some of the sounds created below ground and through the pipes themselves.
Jacob Kirkegaard said:
“Although these stink pipes are nowadays "useless" this work aims to reveal them as poles of sound, or as singing flutes. In a way these are tones from the past.”
Jacob Kirkegaard is an artist and composer who works in carefully selected environments to generate recordings that are used in compositions, or combined with video imagery in visual, spatial installations. His works reveal unheard sonic phenomena and present listening as a means of experiencing the world. Kirkegaard has recorded sonic environments as different as subterranean geyser vibrations, empty rooms in Chernobyl, Arctic calving glaciers and tones generated by the human inner ear itself.
Based in Berlin Kirkegaard has presented his works at galleries, museums and concert spaces throughout the world, including MoMA in New York, LOUISIANA in Denmark, KW in Berlin, The Menil Collection & at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Aichi Triennale in Nagoya, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan - and most recently with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denmark. His sound works are released on the TOUCH, Important Records, VON Archives & Posh Isolation labels.