Tone 26 – Jacob Kirkegaard “4 Rooms”

CD – 52 minutes

Launch event: 25/26th April 2006 @ The Marble Church, Copenhagen
Available to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster
4 Rooms won for Jon Wozencroft the Qwartz 4 award for Best Artwork
4 ROOMS; empty memorials

The work aims to be a revelation of four abandoned spaces inside the Zone of Exclusion in Chernobyl. It deals with a sonic experience of time, absence, and change – in an area haunted by an invisible and inaudible danger, amidst the slowly decaying remains of human civilization.

This is Jacob Kirkegaard’s 2nd CD for Touch, after Eldfjall [Touch # T33.20]. Born in Denmark, now living and working in Germany, here he explores one of the worst man made disaster in history. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986; clouds of radioactive particles were released, and the severely damaged containment vessel started leaking radioactive matter. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from the city and other affected areas. Despite the fact that radiation is still being emitted from the nuclear disaster site, the 900-year-old city of Chernobyl survives, although barely. As of 2004, government workers still police the zone, trying to clean up radioactive material. Some – mostly elderly – have decided to live with the dangers and have returned to their homes in the zone’s towns and villages. Their population was highest in 1987, when there were more than 1200 people. In 2003, there were about 400 and now 350 are registered. The effects on the environment were catastrophic: huge areas of northern europe were dosed with radioactivity.

CHERNOBYL; 20 years on
This work is a sonic presentation of four deserted rooms inside the ‘Zone of Alienation’ in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Jacob Kirkegaard deliberately picked rooms that once were active meeting points for people: A church in village Krasno, an auditorium, a gymnasium and a swimming pool in Pripyat.

The rooms he found and recorded were abandoned abruptly, urgently, and for good: Their inhabitants were evacuated by Soviet military and had to leave all their belongings behind. On April 26th, 1986, the explosion of Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant had extinguished all possibilities of human survival in the vicinity.

Two decades after the event, Kirkegaard explores the phenomenon of radiation with the medium of sound. By listening to the silence of four radiating spaces he aims to unlock a fragment of the time existing inside the zone.

SILENCE; unfolding in space
The sound of each room was evoked by sonic time layering: In each room, he recorded 10 minutes of it and then played the recording back into the room, while at the same time recording it again. This process was repeated up to ten times. As the layers got denser, each room slowly began to unfold a drone with various overtones.

The sound of each room was evoked by an elaborate method: Kirkegaard made a recording of 10 minutes and then played the recording back into the room, recording it again. This process was repeated up to ten times. As the layers got denser, each room slowly began to unfold a drone with various overtones.

From a technical point of view, Kirkegaard’s “sonic time layering” refers back to Alvin Lucier’s work “I am sitting in a room” [1970]. Lucier recorded his voice in a space and repeatedly played this recording back into that same space. In this work, however, no voice is being projected into the rooms: during the recordings Kirkegaard left the four spaces to wait for whatever might evolve from the silence.

Track listing:

1. Church
2. Auditorium
3. Swimming Pool
4. Gymnasium


Paper Thin Walls (USA):

While the rumbling sound-art of Jacob Kirkegaard’s doesn’t even Touch the nirvana-peaking swoon of Fennsez, the minimal bliss of Oren Ambarchi, or even the background-ready friendliness of the most wallpapery Phil Niblock, it’s clear by his methods that he’s out for bigger things. His last album, Eldfjall, was science-as-sound-as-science: a series of speaker-rattling hums that were recordings of geothermal vibrations, recorded deep within Iceland’s volcanic geyser regions. Second album 4 Rooms is equally weighty: an exploration of the Chernobyl disaster by recording the empty rooms of military bunkers, places that have been left abandoned for 20 years.

Kirkegaard recorded the empty rooms—a church, and auditorium, a swimming pool and a gymnasium—and played the sounds back to the empty space, recording the results. “Auditorium” is a harrowing hum, the type of desolate stuff that conjures up images of barren expanses, but it’s really just a representation of an incomparable amount of loss to a small space. [CHristopher R. Weingarten]

Neural (Italy):

Four big and gloomy recordings, made respectively in those who were once public places (“Church”, “Auditorium”, “Swimming Pool”, “Gymnasium”), abandoned military bunkers, within the zone of the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, an Ukrainian city whose sad fame is due to what happened on April 26, 1986. The author is Jakob Kirkegaard, who explicitly quotes the operative (and theoretical) methods of Alvin Lucier, who, in “I Am Sitting In A Room” (composed in 1969), experimented with conceptual relationships between the spatiality of sound and iteration according to a multiplicative process of recording, playing and again recording (in the same physical space). This action, in the set built by Kirkegaard, is repeated as much as ten times, producing estranging effects and making tangible the aura of alienation and impotence surrounding these places that have become inhabitable. The result of this obsessive investigation of emptiness isn’t just the commemoration of a horrible day, but also a coherent and impeccable production, strong both in project and in execution. [Aurelio Cianciotta]

All Music Guide (USA):

The back story to 4 Rooms isn’t needed for an appreciation of the cold drone meditation of the album, but it does provide some unnerving context — the rooms in question, indicated by the track titles, are locations in the radiation zone still in place around the destroyed reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine. The technical notes indicate that Jacob Kirkegaard’s approach, openly citing Alvin Lucier’s own work with tape overdubs, consisted of literally recording silence in each particular room — all chosen due to being popular meeting places before the accident — and broadcasting the results back into the room, many times over. Those familiar with the work of such sound artists like Thomas Köner will find immediate sonic affinities with 4 Rooms — the opening “Church” in particular sounds like a piece from Köner’s mid-’90s works, with an air of metallic chill. It’s not a tone maintained throughout 4 Rooms, but all have the same general air — if “Auditorium” feels a bit warmer in comparison, it’s no less darkly meditative. Though not spelled out, presumably Kirkegaard further treated the recordings with understated arrangements, as the pieces shift to include undulating rhythms (without percussion) and shifts in volume, as well as fading out in some cases. “Swimming Pool,” of the four pieces all told, might be the most gripping — while possessing similarities to “Church,” there’s an almost stuttering, nervous edge to the main drones, allowing one to not entirely relax. In contrast, the concluding “Gymnasium” is the most hollow-sounding and eerie, with a higher pitch lending to the distanced feeling throughout. In the end, the larger background of the album is somehow present in a wordless fashion throughout 4 Rooms, suggestive of sudden abandonment and a still-looming, potent threat. [Ned Raggett]

Boomkat (USA):

Very rarely does a very interesting concept for an album translate itself into a very interesting album musically, but trust the Touch label to get it right. On ‘4 Rooms’ (nothing to do with the crappy Tarantino-related hotel flick) Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard explores the legacy of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. Kirkegaard recorded four rooms in the abandoned military bunkers, rooms that were active meeting points for people and have been left totally abandoned since the disaster. He recorded the silence of the room for a set time and then played it back to the empty room, recording the results. These recordings became layered over and over the sound, building up into dense and haunting drones – the results simply harrowing. For some strange reason (probably my brain interpreting it badly) the pieces actually bring to mind Andrei Tarkofky’s classic post-apocalyptic mediation ‘Stalker’, the thick, moving drones taking me across deserted landscapes and into frightening, stark concrete bunkers. One of the most engrossing albums on Touch for some time, a big recommendation.

Other Music (USA):

The latest work from Jacob Kirkegaard is a poignant sonic reminder marking the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The Danish ex-pat, who currently resides in Germany, chose four different locations inside the Ukrainian city’s “Zone of Alienation” – rooms which had once been bustling centers: a church, an auditorium, a swimming pool and a gymnasium, all which have since remained abandoned since that tragic day of April 26th, 1986. Using a process that is technically similar to Alvin Lucier’s “I Am Sitting in a Room,” Kirkegaard would record the ambience of the room for several minutes, and then record the playback, repeating this for up to 10 times. Of course, Lucier’s hallmark piece demonstrated the interaction between the human voice and the space of the room from where he was reciting his unaccompanied text which, over 32 repetitions, eventually morphs together into a rhythmic pattern of ringing tones. In Kirkegaard’s four pieces, there is no voice or any controlled sound source for that matter. Instead, he lets the rooms speak for themselves, and the hums and drones of one location do indeed sound completely different than another. In each track, the ebb and flow of the ghostly tones are slow-moving and ever-evolving; one is left wondering if the sounds we hear could be the radioactive particles interacting with the empty space between the four walls. [GH]

Dusted (USA):

It’s been said that many make sacrifices for their music, but, in the recording of 4 Rooms, Jacob Kirkegaard went above and beyond. Almost 20 years after the Chernobyl disaster, Kirkegaard traveled into the villages surrounding Chernobyl, places largely uninhabited and still teeming with radiation, an unheard and unseen but never forgotten result of Reactor 4’s fateful meltdown in April 1986. The project focused on formerly public spaces, rooms once full of people, life and social interaction, and explores the results of the nuclear contamination on the behavior of sound in these physical spaces. The recordings are as much a science experiment as they are an artistic endeavor; Kirkegaard conducted the recordings not in the hopes of guaranteeing the most alluring or exciting results, but in order to gain a perspective on the sonic effects of the radiation in these large spaces, and, as he puts it on his website, “unlock a fragment of the time existing inside the zone”.

The recording process of 4 Rooms was inspired by Alvin Lucier’s “I am Sitting in a Room”, in which Lucier recorded his voice in a specific room, and played it back into the same space in which it was recorded. Kirkegaard’s more austere process involved the removal of human interaction, instead making 10-minute recordings of the ambient sound in each room. The recordings were played back into the rooms, and the results recorded again, up to 10 times. As the recordings became more and more layered, a ghostly ambience arises from what the human ear hears as silence. To a rational mind, 4 Rooms documents the acoustic effects of the spaces which Kirkegaard recorded; to a more poetic mind, the album is an exploration of the sonic specters of lives forgotten at a moment’s notice, the spirit of spaces once alive with human activity, now inhabited only by memories, some of the hardier local flora and fauna, and the toxic radiation that continues to seep from the site two decades after the disaster.

Kirkegaard’s recordings focus on Pripyat, a village northwest of the city of Chernobyl that, as the home of the nuclear power plant, was ground zero on April 26, 1986. An auditorium, gymnasium, and a swimming pool in Pripyat were chosen as recording venues, as well as a church in the neighboring village of Krasno. Each of the spaces has particular aural qualities, and 4 Rooms is a more diverse listening experience than one might initially expect. The differences aren’t wholly in the tonality of the rooms’ ambience, but also the rhythms that emerge as the recordings are layered – flutters and rumbles birthed by the waveforms of the reverberating sound. “Swimming Pool” feels strangely underwater, though photo documentation of the room shows only a shallow layer of water in the decaying reservoir. “Gymnasium” initially shimmers in an almost metallic fashion, and “Church” and “Auditorium” sound eerily haunted, the build-up creating an aura of surprisingly actives drones.

While some may not find 4 Rooms aesthetically gripping, the conceptual power behind the project is hard to deny. The album is the music of a people disappeared, an entire population whose lives came to an abrupt halt, even if they escaped to safety. 4 Rooms, though it contains nary an iota of purposefully created human sound, is an document of not just the aural qualities of empty spaces, but the spiritual ambience of this “Zone of Alienation,” a place that, if abandoned, remains heavy with the pathos of those who were forced to leave.

[Adam Strohm]

VITAL (Netherlands):

On April 26, 1986 the worst nuclear power accident in history occurred at Chernobyl in the former USSR (now Ukraine). A poorly conducted test at one of the four reactors went out of control resulting in several explosions. Radiation was released into the atmosphere and spread over northern Europe. The town and surrounding areas were evacuated, to this day remains a dead zone, except for a few government workers attempting to clean up the area, and the aged who returned to live and die where they were born. Twenty years later Jacob Kirkegaard journeyed to the “Zone of Alienation” to create this work. Kirkegaard picked four rooms that were once places of social activity: a church, an auditorium, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium. In each of these abandoned spaces he made a ten minute recording of the silence and then played it back into the room, and recording it and repeating the process up to ten times. The process is reminiscent of Alvin Lucier’s work “I am Sitting in a Room” with the difference being that Kirkegaard left the rooms while the recordings were being made. The end result is the amplification and unveiling of the resonances of each space. The CDc.d. opens with the Church which is very dense are hard to penetrate. With each following track the density lessens and the resonances more refined. “Swimming Pool” which I anticipated to be rich and reverberate, surprisingly is very minimal and bleak. The closing track “Gymnasium” is the most menacing, with very distinct frequencies swelling through the desolate space. Although the sound is hypnotic, the end result is unnerving and disturbing. “4 Rooms” is a document of shadows moving in dark empty rooms. (JS)

Musiquemachine (UK):

As a child growing up in the late 70’s to early 80’s, the nuclear fear was very clear in my mind. I often wondered what it would feel like to walk into a place that had high radiation: would you smell, hear or sense anything different? I often wondered too, what it would be like to walk through the areas left mainly peopleless by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in 1986. There was something very strange and deeply sad about the pictures I had seen of the rural towns and city scapes overgrown by vegetation, their once busy thoroughfares eerily quiet.

Jacob Kirkegaard has produced four drone/soundworks that were recorded within the zone of Alienation, in Chernobyl. He picked four rooms which would have been places where people would have gathered in large numbers; a church, an auditorium, a swimming pool and a gymnasium. Kirkegaard recorded ten minutes of whatever sound the rooms emitted, then played the sound back into the room, repeating the process up to as many as ten times. The resulting soundworks are attempts to try and capture what radiation does to the atmosphere, and how it resonates from within the four rooms. The resulting drone scapes have a strange haunted feel to them; there are no pictures of the rooms in the artwork, but the sound makes the rooms very clear within one’s mind.

‘Swimming Pool’ has the eerier underwater feeling about it. Among the sound elements, there’s a haunting sound of what could be something pushing itself off from the side of a decaying pool filled with stagnate, rubble-filled water . The track starts off quietly, but slowly builds up its layers of eerie harmonics. The sound seems to really weigh down heavily on you as it builds up. It almost feels like the air itself is pressing down on you, leaving a sour taste in your mouth. Each track has its own interesting and different element and tone, but each is heavy with the same strange cold weight feeling. It never erupts into any thing really going towards noise, it’s just deeply hypnotic patterns of sound.
One of the more interesting drone/sound albums I’ve come across, which is both compelling in its concept and its execution. It’s also a chilling reminder of what we have done to our planet. [Roger Batty]

Blow Up (IT):

Difficile slegare i suoni di “4 Rooms” dalla visione delle straordinarie immagini di “Aion”, assemblate da Kirkegaard come parte della stessa ricerca e mostrate il mese scorso sottoforma di installazione video in diversi spazi espositivi in Danimarca. L’intero progetto, presentato in occasione del ventesimo anniversario del disastro di Chernobyl, si basa su un’indagine del giovane sound artist danese su quattro spazi scelti all’interno della “zona proibita” nella città ucraina, apparentemente vuoti ma che in “Aion” e “4 Rooms” si vanno popolando di fantasmi sonori e visivi. Fondato su ricerche approfondite rispetto all’immaginario legato a silenzi e catastrofi, e corredato da accurate indagini tecniche sulla diffusione e propagazione del suono (per entrambi gli aspetti si veda, il progetto prende forma attraverso una stratificazione sonora progressiva generata da Kirkegaard in una chiesa, un auditorium, una piscina e una palestra: in ognuno degli spazi è stata effettuata una registrazione acustica per dieci minuti, riprodotta poi dieci volte a sollecitare la comparsa di armoniche e stratificazioni sonore. Ispirandosi ad “I Am Sitting In A Room” di Alvin Lucier, il danese ne ribalta il punto di vista eliminando la presenza della voce umana che innescava la composizione dello statunitense, lasciando invece che siano i diversi luoghi a parlare. Capta così sommovimenti e vibrazioni nascoste, restituendo a questi spazi vuoti il senso di una dimensione assolutamente e perversamente umana perché di questa sembra raccontare ombre, paure e spettri. (7) [Daniela Cascella]

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Meer dan twintig jaar na de nucleaire ramp in Tsjernobyl (Oekraïne) kreeg de Deense geluidsarchitect/onderzoeker Jacob Kirkegaard de toestemming van de Oekraïnse regering om in de zone waar de feiten zich voordeden opnames te maken. Kirkegaard liet zich inspireren door het werk van de Amerikaan Alvin Lucier die in 1970 ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’ opnam. Lucier nam zijn eigen stem op en speelde deze opname telkens opnieuw af in dezelfde kamer, waarop hij ze opnieuw op band vastlegde. Kirkegaard paste hier dezelfde werkwijze toe. In vier kamers die centraal in de kernreactor liggen plaatste hij zijn opnameapparatuur. Gedurende tien minuten maakte hij opnames van de stilte in deze kamers. Deze opnames speelde hij tien keer opnieuw af en nam ze ook telkens opnieuw, zonder enige manipulatie, op. Kirkegaard probeert op die manier het tijdsaspect binnen deze ruimtes te vatten. ‘4 Rooms’ is een document, muzikaal zijn de opnames, ongefilterde soundscapes in hun meest naakte vorm, die vooral verbazen door hun donkere tint en nog het meest door het ‘karakter’ van de stilte die als een levend organisme sluimeren. De aanzwellende stilte en resonantie in ‘Auditorium’ lijkt gestuurd maar ontstond door het procédé die Kirkegaard toepaste. Een degelijke koptelefoon of een stevige draai aan het volume zijn noodzakelijk om dit werk naar waarde te kunnen schatten. [pds]

Exclaim (Canada):

Signal to Noise (USA):

[Jacob Kirkegaard is Danish, not German – ed.]

Grooves (USA):

Released to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear-plant explosion that emitted clouds of radioactive particles into the skies of northern Europe, 4 Rooms draws on source material from rooms that once knew a close connection with the local inhabitants. In particular, the emptiness and desolation are the focus of attention here. Amid the radiation that to this day keeps all but a few individuals out of the “Zone of Alienation,” Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard engages in what may essentially be called active listening, at first recording each room’s faint mutterings, near-silences, and grumbles and then bouncing them back into the room, allowing the space to take the conversation further, until a number of layers have accumulated and a nest of overtones may be presented in surprising fullness.

What becomes apparent is that these vacant spaces still emit a variety of timbres and cadences. While a certain gruesome ambience is common to them all, each room has its own unmistakable sound and manner of unfolding. Taken from a church in the village of Krasno, the opening composition brims with shadowy harmonic details that gradually untangle and open themselves up the listener. “Swimming Pool” consists of metallic, oscillating tones that coalesce into rich blankets of sound that seem to still harbor a sliver of the underwater aura that was once surely palpable.

The minimalism of 4 Rooms may not invite repeated listening. On a conceptual level, though, this study of the manner in which radiation effects sonic spaces, as well as the activity and liveliness of these otherwise dead environments, is profoundly intriguing. What is more, all of this is accomplished without much intervention on the part of Kirkegaard, suggesting that sometimes perhaps the world speaks to us better than we do to it. [Max Schaefer]

Brainwashed (USA):

Radiant silence would be a better description, and Kirkegaard uses the city’s past to explode his paradox by choosing rooms of defined public space: church, auditorium, swimming pool, gymnasium. Rooms rarely silent in their previous life and deathly silent today are given second stories, necessarily suggestive of the noise and chaos of their tragedy but themselves eerily hopeful impossibilities.

Kirkegaard’s method will immediately recall Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room, though now with the sound of empty space replacing the human-voice within-space. Lucier’s fusion of human presence with spatial sound dynamics—a process that subtracts the tonal uncommonalities—contrasts Kirkegaard’s additive method in which recordings of the empty rooms are layered sometimes 10-high upon each other, equaling squirmy, resonant pools of all-over ambient noise-throb. Whereas Lucier’s work ends in a shimmering dissolve, a Zen conclusion (the artist never endorsed) on both the power and ultimate dependence of human consciousness/presence, Four Rooms takes the ghostly memory of presence and exploits it in a meditation on what history leaves behind or what is always there: the before and after.

At face value the four tracks are extremely effective, immersive ambient pieces, at once calming and sleepy and shrill with the buried howl and throb of frequency pile-up. Album art translates the lacey threads and cold currents that wind and curl over the constant, in-the-red groan of a silence room bursting with itself. To call the music desolate or space-like (how could you resist) is accurate, but knowledge of its genesis makes its experience a confined, earthen thing, creepy given the spaces, but comforting and womblike almost by fact of its existence. On his website, Kirkegaard has incredible pictures of the specific rooms, from the “Zone of Alienation”, looking completely alien, untouched for 20 years, holding back some awesome silence.

Nutida Musik (Sweden):

New Music (Poland):

To jest delikatna sprawa, kiedy artyści tworzą muzykę, dla której wskazują konkretną inspirację. Przypomnijcie sobie te wszystkie wypowiedzi w stylu „do nagrania tego albumu zainspirowały nas dzieła/pisarstwo/osoba Iksa” (gdzie zmienną jest nazwisko) albo „nagrywając tą płytę staraliśmy się oddać klimat Ygrek” (tu można podstawić konkretną lokację albo góry, morze lub coś innego). To zapewne rzecz gustu, ale chyba w większości przypadków czytając zapowiedzi świecą się nam oczy, a gdy już słuchamy płyty to przecieramy je ze zdumienia. Przykład jaki mi przychodzi na myśl to „Music for Egon Schiele” Rachel’s – nie mogę pojąć, co wspólnego mają wygładzone, delikatne kameralne kompozycje z niepokojącym, demonicznym malarstwem?

Poruszam tą kwestię, gdyż krążek „4 rooms” Jacoba Kierkegaarda jest inspirowany i poświęcony konkretnemu miejscu, w dodatku silnie naznaczonemu – Czarnobylowi. Z tymże, że u duńskiego twórcy inspiracja (pytanie ‘dlaczego?’) oraz zawartość (‘co?’) ściśle łączy się ze sposobem stworzenia – ‘jak?’. Trudno rozstrzygnąć, co było najpierw, tak spójny jest pomysł i jego wykonanie na albumie zrealizowanym przez Touch. Kierkegaard pojechał do napromieniowanej strefy wokół Czarnobyla i tam zrealizował swój album. Wybrał cztery pomieszczenia (podane w tytułach kompozycji), każde nagrywał a potem odtwarzał to nagranie w tym pomieszczeniu. Za każdym razem powtórzył tą czynność 10 razy.

Efekt trudno opisać – długie (12-13 minut) kompozycje, smutne, wzniosłe, w których dochodzi do minimalnych zmian (dźwięki jakby płynęły, falowały), oparte na porażających dronach.

To jednak nie charakteryzuje w ogóle jakości dźwiękowych – to je naprawdę trudno przekazać. Pierwsze słowo, jakie znalazłem to: monumenty. Utwory (cały czas szukam bardziej odpowiedniego określenia) są w istocie monumentalne, wydają się nieprzystępne, brak w nich punktów zaczepienia, trudno też z płytą obcować ‘intymnie’ – słuchanie na słuchawkach pozbawia większości wrażeń. Ale jeśliby je porównywać do pomników, to raczej do berlińskiego Pomnika Holokaustu, a nie do tradycyjnych wielkich rzeźb postaci lub obelisków. Tak jak w tym gąszczu brył można się zgubić i wchodzić w niego mając wrażenie, że jest się coraz bardziej zagubionym, a zaraz okazuje się, że jest się już na drugim końcu, tak jest też z tą płytą. Kierkegaard przedstawia nam cztery wyjałowione, zapomniane przestrzenie i subtelnie rozwijając swoje utwory wprowadza nas w nie coraz głębiej, tym samym dźwięki wtapiają się w umysł i długo nie pozwalają o sobie zapomnieć.

Po takich płytach można znów uzyskać wiarę w to, że muzyka może być sztuką, że dźwięki potrafią powiedzieć coś ważnego. „4 rooms” zawierają w sobie wiele sekretów (a może słyszymy promieniowanie?), dla każdego inny, do odkrycia na własną rękę. Coś niezwykłego. [Piotr Tkacz]

KindaMuzik (Netherlands):

De opzet is als volgt: men neemt een stille ruimte en plaatst her en der een microfoon. Je neemt de stilte op, tien minuten lang. Vervolgens speel je die opname weer in die ruimte af. Het mengsel van opgenomen en werkelijke stilte leg je weer vast. Zo herhaal je dat proces tien keer. Het resultaat: de beklemming van uitvergrote stilte.

Stilte tot de tiende macht blijkt immers geluid te bevatten. Zelfs in de ‘Zone of Alienation’, het niemandsland rondom de ontplofte kernreactor in Tsjernobyl, waar elk teken van leven is weggeschroeid. De stilte moet er hardnekkig en indringend zijn. Daar, in dat gebied, koos Jacob Kirkegaard vier plekken uit en deed zoals hierboven is beschreven. Terwijl veel conceptuele kunstjes het bij de uitvoering laten afweten, versterkt het op Four Rooms alleen maar het eindresultaat. Hoewel de vier doffe ruisstukken ook prima op zichzelf kunnen staan, wordt de beklemming nog intenser als je bedenkt hoe ze zijn gemaakt in die van dood doortrokken stad.

Alle vier de drones zijn benauwend en drukkend. Ze vibreren als warme lucht. Ondanks dat ze allemaal even dik en indringend zijn, verschillen ze onderling. Dat zal wel iets met de akoestiek van de ruimtes te maken hebben. Of met de wind, het ongedierte, of de druppels die in het zwembad vallen. Het is onheilspellend, bijna luguber, hoe er in het auditorium na een minuut of acht opeens een hoge toon opdoemt die de logge geluidslaag die er hing verdringt. Vooral omdat het niet wordt aangestuurd. Het ontwikkelt zich vanzelf, uit ontmaskerde stilte. Church is ook beangstigend omdat je er, met een beetje goede wil, een resonerende orgeltoon in hoort die heel langzaam van kleur verandert. Alsof het kerkorgel daar nog steeds geluid maakt.

Toen Alvin Lucier in 1970 op dezelfde manier zijn stem afspeelde en weer opnam ging die stem na een tijdje een eigen leven lijden en ontdekte hij nooit eerder gehoorde geluiden. Kirkegaard doet nu hetzelfde. Alleen laat hij deze keer de stilte zijn gang gaan, op een onmenselijke plek. Geheel uniek is de insteek dus niet, maar wat maakt het uit als het eindresultaat blijft fascineren?

Subjam (China):

Jacob Kirkegaard是住在德国的丹麦声音艺术家。2005年,他去了切尔诺贝利。在我刚上中学的时候,这是一个可怖的名字,在苏联,乌克兰。核电站爆炸了,几十万人撤离,250万人被辐射,27万人致癌。


要是再想到这个特殊的地点,那声音恐怕会更让人起鸡皮疙瘩。你怎么可能不联想。玩建筑的声音艺术家很多,利用房间混响的主意也早就有人发明了。Jacob Kirkegaard自己也说,受到了Alvin Lucier的影响,那前辈在1970年录了著名的《我坐在一个房间里》——他坐在一个房间里,对着话筒念:“我坐在一个房间里……”,录下来,然后播放并录下来,如是反复,直到声音被混响改变到洪水一样。这里面有科技,有禅,有听觉体验,是当代音乐最重要的作品之一。Jacob Kirkegaard的作品没有东方哲学,但一样空,少,人为/艺术干预减到了最低程度,甚至被认为是单调和非艺术,总之他总是这样,用科学的精密来记录,像个技术工人。


Jacob Kirkegaard是Elgaland-Vargaland王国的公民和部长。这个虚拟王国是由另两位著名的声音艺术家在1992年创建的,有大使、护照和邮票以及国歌,它的领土是“地球上所有国家之间的边境区域、所有国家领海外的海域;心理和感知领土,比如催眠状态、虚拟数字空间”。前南斯拉夫的虚拟艺术国家NSK和他们建立了外交关系……那个部的全称是“可见与正在消失之地部”,其他的部还包括“听力学部”、“打击乐部”、“数码食品部”、“过去部”、“无部”……