Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard creates from within the scorched Chernobyl environment | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard creates from within the scorched Chernobyl environment


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For his long-overdue Chicago debut, Berlin-based Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard presents Aion, a multimedia work built around a recording project he conducted in October 2005 within the radioactive zone that surrounds the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Released in 2006 as 4 Rooms (Touch), it consists of four pieces recorded in an abandoned gymnasium, church, swimming pool, and auditorium, where Kirkegaard set up microphones and captured ten minutes of unmediated ambient sound (in other words, “silence”), drawing inspiration from composer Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room (1969). For that influential piece Lucier recorded himself reading a text while sitting in a room, then recorded the playback of that tape, then in turn played back that tape while recording it, and so forth, until the sonic frequences specific to the room obliterated all traces of his voice. The four works on 4 Rooms, created via a similar process, are composed of slowly undulating drones that ripple with electronic humming—they not only preserve a fragment of time within forbidden areas but also metaphorically amplify the ghosts of a destroyed existence. Kirkegaard later paired the recordings with photographs shot near the power plant, altered by techniques (such as layering and overexposure) that parallel his manipulations of sound. He’ll present the full work here.   v

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