Article Index

 

 

Echo State Network, 2019

 

 

 Courtesy of the Artist

the sonification of the computing process in an analog neural network, 2019

The first song a computer intoned was in the 1970s when an IBM 704 at the Bell Labs sang‘ Daisy Bell’. The same song was sung by the artificial intelligence HAL-9000 in the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick. But why should an AI sang human songs?
Won’t they prefer their own beats and melodies?
The sonic structures produced by the eternal oscillation of analog neural networks is the more possible soundtrack when the technological singularity is reached and AI takes over. At that point in the future, when technology becomes uncontrollable - like the mathematischen John von Neumann predicted in the 1950s - the remains of the human civilization will probably listen to some kind of “Echo State Network”.

 

 Courtesy of the Artist

The installation raises the question: can one hear the firing of neurons? Does their action potential have pitch and timbre? How do patterns and structures of a neural network look and sound? And what will happen if the network listen to these sound and pattern, too - and feeds this information back into the network?

At the core of the sound installation “Echo State Network” by Wolfgang Spahn is an artificial analog neural network that generates sonic pattern and audible structures. The circuit of the neuron is an adaption of an early neural model originally designed by Japanese mathematician Shun'ichi Amari to explain the human heart beats. Thus the factor time and feedback are added to the network. Compared to Facebook and Google networks this neural systems is much more complex and manifold in its appearance. One can say this analog artificial network mirrors far more the chaotic human nature than the digital AI implementations.

 

 Courtesy of the Artist

 

As part of his Analog Computer Confetti the artist created an analogue electric circuit that mimic a model of a neuron. More than 150 of the Confetti Neurons will form an analogue version of a so called “Echo State Network”. And because the model for that neuron was developed to explain our heart beat this network will oscillate, pulse and create most complex pattern one can see and listen to.

 

 

 Courtesy of the Artist

 

An Echo State Network is a particular kind of model of a recurrent neural network. At it‘s core is a complex, chaotic and back coupling neural network, similar to a Liquid-State Machine. At the networks input layer a couple of sensors will react to sound and light. Brightness and frequencies will be processed and fed back in the Echo State Network. A couple of firing neurons that oscillates in a audible frequency will form the output layer. Indicator LEDs shows the action in the network as well as 8 speakers make these activity hearable at 8 different nodes of the network. Thus the visitor can witness the activity in the neural network and can get an idea of the complexity of these processes.

The Artwork is avaible in the ACI-Shop.

 

 

Strange Attractors, 2019

 


Courtesy Art Claims Impulse

a Lorenz System controlled by an other Lorenz System, 2019

Ever since the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot geometrically described structures in nature as ‘self-similar systems’ in „How Long Is the Coast of Britain? Statistical Self-Similarity and Fractional Dimension“ a paper published in 1967, fractal structures have remained a subject of artistic enquiry. Strange attractors in their quality of chaotic fractals constitute together with self-similar structures an important part of chaos research, and feature as core and lead theme of the installation.





Courtesy Art Claims Impulse

„Strange Attractors“ is about a generative system for sound and projections based on the analogue computer Confetti (developed by the artist) that calculates these Strange Attractors.

„Strange Attractors” rises the question if climate can be predicted, described by Julia Slingo, and Tim Palmer in Uncertainty in weather and climate prediction.

The title of the work refers to the mathematical term of the same name (David Ruelle / Floris Takens, 1971) borrowed from chaos theory which describes physical laws of chaotic behaviour in dynamic processes. Based on strange attractors it’s possible to for instance to mathematically describe turbulent currents of liquids or gases that cannot otherwise by analytically captured due to their complexity and level of randomness. In the installation two Lorenz Attractors are used to generate the sound as well as the visuals.




Courtesy Art Claims Impulse


The work raised the question of the artistic definition of boundaries in a space which in fact is determined by coincidence. Strange attractors are defined among others by the fact that they always establish a limiting framework or an according order within which the actual chaos can take place. This means that – at least from a mathematical perspective – haphazardness and chaos are enabled by a framework that creates an order, because without this framework any conceivable chaotic system would rise ad infinitum, and by doing so would escape observation and description. If this thought were transferred to art, it would mean that artistically created chaotic systems would not be visible or audible. Accordingly, the installation raises the question whether the artists themselves create the framework that creates the order, allowing the work to emerge ‘haphazardly’.




 Courtesy Art Claims Impulse

The work was show in the exhibition “Self-Similar and Strange” at Art Claims Impulse in Berlin, 2019.

 

 

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 The Artwork is avaible in the ACI-Shop.

 

 

 

Its organic if you have a closer look, 2017.


 

Courtesy Art Claims Impulse

The audio-video installation It's Organic If You Look Close Enough by artist Wolfgang Spahn aims to deconstruct the so-called perfect surface created in the virtual sphere by contemporary digital technology. By exploring the surface of OLED monitors through macro film, the camera makes visible the frayed edges of the Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs). This creates images that would not be visible to the naked eye: The supposedly homogeneous perfect squares are actually uniquely shaped, frayed and uneven when approached with the macro lens.

A triptych of three OLED monitors, each equipped with a Raspberry Pi camera, shows patterns created and re-created by macro-films of the frayed pixels. Thus, each monitor is both source and display of the patterns generated in an endless feedback loop. These patterns are manifold, as macrofilms magnify their objects, performatively generating changes in terms of structure, color, and dimension of the images.


 




Courtesy of the Artist

 

In this respect, the installation speaks both to the organic structure of OLEDs and to the analog technology that is part of the digital interfaces. In doing so, it creates disillusionment: the purely digital surface can only exist as an abstract reality within the virtual sphere. The moment digital data is made accessible - whether through the use of monitors, cameras, or any technology that allows data to be stored, shared, or visualized - the pure digital surface is interrupted by the hardware of the interfaces, which always contains analog technology.

Nevertheless, the installation also includes virtual space. The VGA (Video Graphics Array) input signals of the OLED monitors are tracked and their audio amplified and streamed. In this respect, the imprecise sound resulting from the organic images will be publicly available in the virtual space. The sonification of the data can be understood as interference: organic material interferes with the perfect surface of the abstract virtual sphere.



 



Courtesy of the Artist


The Artwork is avaible in the ACI-Shop.

 

 

Entagled Pixels

 

 

 

Maailmankaikkeus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noctilucent

 

 

 

 

 

Bilder einer Ausstellung


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Courtesy of the Artist



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Courtesy of the Artist




eine Klang-Bild Installation
von Wolfgang Spahn, 2014


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Almost 100 years after the invention of the Intonarumori by futurist Luigi Russolo and the kinetic sculpture "Light-Space-Modulator" by artist and Bauhaus professor László Moholy-Nagy, the installation "Picture of an Exhibition" combines the functions of these two systems into a single machine.

Abstract generated projections correspond with equally abstract live generated sounds. Permanently moving patterns and artifacts emerge on a projection screen behind a laboratory-like structure. Parallel to this, a recurring auditory experience develops, reminiscent of rolling stones in a riverbed. Inspired by the program music "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgski, the installation by
Wolfgang Spahn, the sound is generated directly from the image. A laser is used to scan the surface of a picture plate. The resulting light fluctuations are amplified and made audible. By means of an analog synthesizer circuit (bass drum of an 808) volume is added to the sound.







The rotating image disc is a chemical-physical color experiment created in miniature painting mode from finely pigmented substances and nano-liquids. A macro camera now films and enlarges this abstract image and projects it behind the installation. All the techniques used are the artist's own developments and are based on open hardware and software (www.dernulleffekt.de). The camera consists of the small Linux computer

Raspberry Pi. The control of the rotation is generated with a Pure Date patch on this computer.





The Artwork is avaible in the ACI-Shop.

 

 

 

Entropie

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Entropy is an audio (noise)-visual performance by Wolfgang Spahn.

Both, image and sound are generated from different analog and digital self-developed machines. The development of the film / moving image began first with the artificial separation of these. Through the separation of the image and the sound it was only possible to create films. The artwork Entropy brings them together again and cancels the artificial separation. Entropy makes the data streams of the digital projector audible and creates an audio-visual presentation of the electromagnetic fields consisting of coils and motors.




Elephants' Graveyard

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von Wolfgang Spahn, 2014

160 slides, 2 Kodak carousels, 1 video projector, screen, sound and electromagnetic sensors, amplifier, loudspeaker, sync generator.

The installation pays tribute to the beginnings of media art, namely analog photography, through the use of slides. At the same time, it is a tribute to another dying medium, the tube screen, which in turn represents the beginnings of computer technology. In this respect, the installation symbolizes a kind of phantom pain that we feel towards media originally associated with a new dawn, which have now in turn become obsolete.

Since LCD displays and other flat screens have replaced CRT monitors, the old CRTs have been phased out. Since their purchase at the time was associated with considerable costs, many owners find it difficult to part with them. They put them on the street in the naive belief that someone might still need the once-valuable monitor, sometimes with a note saying, "Still works!" But since the need for old CRT monitors is obviously met, no one takes pity on the monitors, which begin to rot at the latest after the first rain. Some are cannibalized or even wantonly destroyed, so that only a mixture of cracked tubes and broken electronic innards remains.

The artist Wolfgang Spahn documented this phenomenon over a period of five years with a small analog Rollei. This resulted in one hundred and sixty 35mm slides of discarded monitors of all makes, dumped in the streets of Berlin at different times of the year.

The installation "Cemetery of Monitors" uses two Kodak carousels and a cross-fade unit to show the 160 images as a classic slide presentation on a slide presentation screen. At the same time, this presentation is superimposed with another projection, which overlays the original slides as noise images (white noise, brief final flare). The resulting palimpsest consists of an analog projection (slides) and a digital projection (interference).

In parallel, the mechanical and electromagnetic sounds of the slide projectors are recorded and amplified to function as a noise installation. This also forms the actual source of the visual disturbance, as it feeds the video projector as pseudo-color information of a hacked VGA signal.

 

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Collins Slide Show

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Interactive slide show, 2012

Slide projector, slides, LCD, electric circuits, remote control.

The artwork is based on a manipulated slide projector. It simultaneously projects an analog slide and a digital LCD screen, which is controlled by a paper PCB (Arduino).
The slide projection shows a satellite image that Collin Powel presented to prove that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. It was shown on February 5, 2003
and was intended to convince the UN to take military action against Iraq. The LCD in turn shows a low resolution computer game in the style of a classic gameboy. The visitor can play the computer game with a remote control and trigger shots.
Two different media, analog and digital are merged into one projection. A different depth of field makes both alternately more visible.

 

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