Christina Kubisch, a pioneer in the field of sound art, gave a presentation on her career to a packed List 225 Thursday evening.
A composer by training, Kubisch has developed new techniques to realize her sound installations, such as magnetic induction and experimenting with ultraviolet light and different cable arrangements.
Her artistic explorations are described on her website as a " ‘synthesis of arts' — the discovery of acoustic space and the dimension of time in the visual arts on the one hand, and a redefinition of relationships between material and form on the other."
Currently a professor for sound art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Saarbrucken, Germany, Kubisch was brought in as the third visitor in the visiting artist series by the Media and Electronic Music Experiments program within the Music Department, in collaboration with the Creative Arts Council and the Digital + Media program at the Rhode Island School of Design.
In addition to presenting visual illustrations of her past work, Kubisch played acoustic scripts of her installations, darkening the room and encouraging the audience to close their eyes in order to fully enjoy the compositions.
Kubisch's career has included installations on electronic music, video performances, electromagnetic induction, use of solar energy on different surfaces, the effect of weather on the sound quality of bells and experimenting with pigments on speakers.
One of her permanent exhibitions is the installation of sound-magnifying objects on the thin metal interior of a renovated factory in Germany. Visitors to the factory can hear sounds resonated from outside, a process that emphasizes the relationship between humans, sounds and nature.
"There is so little sound art in the media space because it takes time and space" and most installations are temporary in nature, Kubisch said. Having even one permanent piece in a public space is "satisfying," she added.
She has also designed 33 "Electronic Walks in the World" in which participants wear specially designed headphones and go around cities to detect sounds generated by different objects and magnified by the headphones. She gives each participant an instructional map of interesting locations she found, in addition to exploring sounds from "machines, hidden devices, art, advertisement — everything that is moving."
"Every city is different, every walk is a discovery," Kubisch said. "You can hear things at places you expect and don't expect."
In addition to the presentation, Kubisch conducted an electronic walk workshop in Providence with Brown and RISD students on Tuesday and showed her new movie about her sound installation work on Wednesday in the Music Department. She has also been meeting with students to talk about their work.
Kubisch is working on integrating new elements to her works, such as photography, and aims at realizing some compositions that are completely acoustic. She has also developed a sound-detecting backpack and plans to make other appliances that include a more physical dimension.
Students said they found Kubisch's presentation interesting and inspiring.
"Hybridity is one of the qualities that characterize contemporary art," said Jung Min Lee '11, a modern culture and media concentrator, who said she found the presentation closely related to her own work. "This is an opportunity for us to be aware of and learn about current trends and artistic practices and how to apply what one has learned to his own production."
"I find her interests in place and mapping really intriguing," said Betsey Biggs, a postdoctoral fellow at the Cogut Center for the Humanities. "It's exciting to have someone so central in the field to come work with students directly."
"It's been great," said Jacob Richman, a doctoral candidate in the Media and Electronic Music Experiments program, who was also in charge of organizing Kubisch's visit. "We feel lucky and happy to have the most prominent person in the field of sound art to come here."
"We study her works all the time," he added.