Pictures at an Exhibition

An installation of audio/visual interference, 2014

(Raspberry Pi, Raspicam, motor, speaker, laser, DVD-Picture, monitor, projector, electric circuit, python program)

Contrary to the composition of Modest Mussorgski’s “Pictures at an exhibition” the installation takes up its sound directly from the picture itself. The “Picture Discs” are semi-transparent miniatures based on dysfunctional DVD s. The picture itself is created by abstract chemical-magnetic processes that involve liquid iron. A Raspberry Pi Camera with a macro lens films the abstract picture, which is magnified and projected to make it visible.



Thus destroyed digital data are transformed into an organic form that can be seen as a renaturation of the bigdata: Layers of earthy colors resemble tectonic plates whose structures are made audible by a laser that scans the rotating picture. The laser emits rough seismic waves and by doing so modulates a light-sensitive transistor. As the signal is amplified and modulated by an electric circuit based on the legendary 808 drum machine the tremor of deep frequencies that usually lie beyond humans’ ability to hear is transmuted into the rumbling sound of a rich bass.

Yet, the deep register is distorted by the screeching sound one associates with machine-made noises. The installation's sonic experience thus also comments on the multitude of earthquake sound designs that are available on the Internet, which ignore the inaudibility of its alleged source.


100 years ago the Futurist Luigi Russolo introduced the Intonarumori while Bauhaus Artist László Moholy-Nagy built his renowned “Light-Space-Modulator”. Russolo’s apparatus generated noise and Nagy’s machine generated moving light/shade patterns. Both aspects are part and parcel of the artwork “Pictures at an Exhibition”. A laboratory-like setup functions as the generator of both abstract projections and corresponding noise.



Wolfgang Spahn is a visual & sound artist based in Berlin. His work includes interactive installations, performances of light & sound and miniature-slide-paintings. His art explores the field of analogue and digital media and focuses on both their contradiction and their correlation.



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