Iter Magneticum

Installation view Iter Magneticum (1986) by Christina Kubisch, second version with black light from 1998.
© Christina Kubisch, courtesy the artist

Iter Magneticum (1986/1988) is part of a series of works in which Christina Kubisch uses specifically designed headsets to make electromagnetic waves audible. In this work, the tones filling a room are not airborne sound but rather are radiated via cable loops in a form of energy for which we humans possess no sense of perception. To be more precise: for which we possess a sense only in another frequency range: namely, the extremely high frequency range which our eyes perceive as light. Thus, the electromagnetic waves made available cannot be perceived as stimulus because they have the wrong form of energy for the ear and the wrong frequency range for the eye.

The signals transmitted electromagnetically therefore have to be transformed by a technical apparatus into airborne sound, much like in a radio device. Equipped with special headsets, visitors can detect these and combine them in different ways by approaching the cable harnesses attached to the floor in the exhibition room. The use of black light highlights the cable loops deployed and mutes other visual stimuli.

Kubisch thus suggests that places acquire significance and meaning not only through their current visible and audible appearance but also through their history, the associations connected to them, and the viewer’s/listener’s own fantasy. The fact that the listeners themselves control the stimuli through their movements in space, their different observational perspectives, and possibly even rhythmical patterns speaks to the notion that the world always is what individual perception—partly deliberately, partly uncontrollably—makes of it.



This work is issued in following texts