Jacob Kirkegaard

Tone 47 – Jacob Kirkegaard “Conversion”

Vinyl & download only
Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft
Cut by Jason at Transition

In collaboration with Danish ensemble Scenatet, Jacob Kirkegaard’s two pieces Labyrinthitis and Church are here interpreted by classical instruments. The intention of this transformation into an instrumental score is to explore the musical dimension and potential of the sounds that were used in creating the original works.

Church (from “4 Rooms”, Touch, 2006) originally consists of ambient recordings of an abandoned church inside the radioactive zone in Chernobyl. Laybrinthitis (Touch, 2008) is a canon of oto-acoustic tones generated by the artist’s own ears. Like most of Kirkegaard’s sound works, both pieces are characterised by a strong focus on methodology, and by the artist’s wish to omit any deliberate emotional or “musical” intention.

Jacob Kirkegaard is a Danish artist focusing on scientific & aesthetic aspects of resonance, time, sound & hearing. His installations, compositions & performances deal with acoustic spaces or phenomena that usually remain imperceptible. Using unorthodox methods for recording, Kirkegaard captures and contextualizes hitherto unheard sounds from within a variety of environments: a geyser, a sand dune, a nuclear power plant, an empty room, a TV tower, and even sounds from the human inner ear itself.

Based in Berlin, Kirkegaard is a graduate of the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne, Germany. Since 1995, Kirkegaard has presented his works at exhibitions and at festivals and conferences throughout the world. He has released five albums (mostly on the British label Touch) and is a member of the sound art collective freq_out.
Composed by Jacob Kirkegaard
Ensemble: SCENATET
Clarinet: Vicky Wright; Percussion: Mads Bendsen; Trombone: Andras Olsen; Violin: Kirsten Riis-Jensen; Viola: Mina Fred; Cello: Sofia Olsson

Scenatet was founded in 2008 by Anna Berit Asp Christensen and Niels Rønsholdt as an ensemble of soloists and artists for contemporary art and music.

Recorded by Scenatet at Studio 3 at The Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, Denmark June 2012
Mixed in Berlin by Jacob Kirkegaard
Executive Producer: Anna Berit Asp Christensen
Instrumental Supervisor: Niels Rønsholdt
Recording Producer & Sound Engineer: Peter Barnow

Thanks to SCENATET, Danish Arts Council and Danish Composers’ Society for their support.

Track list:

Side One: Labyrinthitis ll 17:24 – you can here an edit of this track here
Side Two: Church ll 16:22

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Tone 35 – Jacob Kirkegaard “Labyrinthitis”

[Touch # Tone 35]
CD – 1 track – 38:10

Special wallet limited edition

Commissioned by Medical Museion in Copenhagen, Summer 2007

Jacob Kirkegaard has turned his ears inwards: His new work LABYRINTHITIS is an interactive sound piece that consists entirely of sounds generated in the artist’s auditory organs – and will cause audible responses in those of the audience.

LABYRINTHITIS relies on a principle employed both in medical science and musical practice: When two frequencies at a certain ratio are played into the ear, additional vibrations in the inner ear will produce a third frequency. This frequency is generated by the ear itself: a so-called “distortion product otoacoustic emission” (DPOAE), also referred to in musicology as “Tartini tone”.

By arranging the tones from his ears in a composition and playing them to an audience, the artist evokes further distortion effects in the ears of his listeners. At first, each new tone can only be perceived “intersubjectively”: inside the head of each one in the audience. Kirkegaard artificially reproduces this tone and introduces it, “objectively”, into his composition. When combined with another distorting frequency, it will create another tone… until, step by step, a pattern of descending tonal structure emerges whose spiral form mirrors the composition of resonant spectra in the human cochlea.

(The effect in your ears will not appear when listening to the sound file at http://www.fonik.dk/works/labyrinthitis.html)

Paradoxical as it may sound: we can listen to our own ears. The human hearing organ – still often perceived as a passive unidirectional medium – does not only receive sounds from the outside, it also generates its own sound from within itself. As a matter of fact, it can even be “played on”, just like an acoustic instrument.

This is Jacob Kirkegaard’s 3rd album for Touch, after ‘Eldfjall’ [Touch # T33.20, 2005] and ‘4 Rooms’ [Touch # Tone 26, 2006]


Jacob Kirkegaard is an artist with an interest in the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance, time and hearing. His performances, audio/visual installations and compositions deal with acoustic spaces and phenomena that usually remain inaccessible to sense perception. With the use of unorthodox recording tools such as accelerometers, hydrophones or home-built electromagnetic receivers, Kirkegaard manages to capture and explore “secret sounds” – distortions, interferences, vibrations, ambiences – from within a variety of environments: volcanic earth, a nuclear power plant, an empty room, a TV tower, crystals, ice… and the human inner ear itself.

A graduate of the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne, Germany, Kirkegaard has given workshops and lectures in academic institutions such as the Royal Academy of Architecture in Copenhagen and the Art Institute of Chicago. During the last ten years, he has been presenting exhibitions and touring festivals and conferences throughout the world. Among his numerous collaborators are JG Thirlwell, Ann Lislegaard, CM von Hausswolff, Philip Jeck and Lydia Lunch. He is a member of freq_out.

You can find out more on his website – http://www.fonik.dk

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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

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T33.20 – Jacob Kirkegaard “Eldfjall”

This CD consists of geothermal recordings of vibrations in the ground around the area of Krisuvik, Geysir and Myvatn in Iceland. The recordings have been carried out using accelerometers inserted into the earth at various places around the geysers, mapping the sonic aspects of volcanic activity at the surface of the earth.

Recorded during January and August and mixed in winter 2004.
Thanks to Thor Magnusson & family, Kristin Gunnarsdottir, Alberto de Campo and Anthony Moore.

Track list:

1. Ala
2. Gaea
3. Nerthus
4. Coatlicue
5. Al-Lat
6. Aramaiti
7. Izanami
8. Kali
9. Gerd

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