Spatial Sound

Myths of Electromagnetism (2018)

Camille Roth, Rebekka Bohse Meyer

During their residency at Spatial Sound Institute in the fall 2018, Camille Roth and Rebekka Bohse Meyer collaborated to develop ‘Myths of Electromagnetism’, a spatial sound installation which explores electromagnetic radiation, the ubiquitous invisible data and signals in the space around us, and the ways that we as humans relate to these phenomena.

Electromagnetic radiation surrounds us everywhere in our modern urban environment. An escalating number of Wi-Fi hotspots are transmitting radio waves filled with digital information, that can be accessed from everywhere with the right equipment (technology and encryption keys). What looks like empty space between buildings, above streets, around trees and inside our houses, is actually filled with digital information and communication processes. But how do we understand this invisible medium that flows through the air and shapes our society?

This installation presents a sonic interpretation of how these phenomenon manifest themselves in the space around us - how they move, behave and affect us. Inspired by how societies have imagined electricity and electromagnetism throughout history, the work deals with representation as well as the myths and the notions on such phenomenon. From imagining electromagnetism as something dangerous and supernatural, to acknowledging it, as well as heavily relying on it's importance for transmitting communication, information and data, it still is phenomenon that triggers discussion in terms of how it affect us and our bodies, as the density of waves becomes more and more concentrated.

The composition is primarily created using sound recordings of high-frequency electromagnetic waves in urban environments, and lower-frequency waves from phones and computers  - captured by a detector that transduces the different electromagnetic wavelengths into sound waves.

The installation consists of two parts, of which the first is a sonic staging of the air as charged with electromagnetic particles, that surround and move through the listeners body, increasing and decreasing in density. The second part focuses on the locality of transmissions and de-modulation of signals, as we follow movements through space, intertwined with bursts of mythical imaginations of the nature of these invisible forces.

The piece was presented in loop repeated over 2 hours, twice during the afternoon, as part of Inaudible Realities at Spatial Sound Institute December the 1st, 2018.