A sonification and visualisation of fractal systems

at the exhibition „Feedback #4 - Marshall McLuhan and the Arts“, (curated by Baruch Gottlieb and Marie-José Sondeijker / West Den Haag),at the College for Creative Studies, Detroit (US) and the University of Windsor (Canada), 2019.

“How Long Is the Coast of Britain? Statistical Self-Similarity and Fractional Dimension”, is the title of a paper by mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot (1967). In this, Mandelbrot introduces the idea, that coastlines can be modelled by random self-similar figures, thus linking mathematical fractal objects with natural forms. In mathematics, a self-similar object is exactly similar to a part of itself, which means that the whole has the same shape as one of the parts. In nature, however, self-similarity would be described as imperfect: while many parts show the same shape as the whole there are also those that don't quite fit.

Wolfgang Spahn's unique performance „Self-Similarity“ relates to Mandelbrot's ideas by displaying sonification and visualization of fractal systems. Analog computer and analog neural systems communicate with the self-similarity of Patagonia's nature on both huge and macroscopic scale.

The audio-visual performance „Self-Similarity“ displays patterns and structures of lichen, ferns, moss, and seaweed as well as patterns and structures generated by technology. The data stream of a digital projector is transformed into sound, thus audio-visually presenting the electromagnetic-fields generated by coils and motors. By hacking VGA signals, amplifying their sound and implementing both aspects in his performance Spahn visualizes the importance of the machine as an integral part of his art.

This work was supported by the Goethe Institute Santiago, Chile and the University of Magallanes Punta Arenas, Chile.

at AMRO2020 on

at GMK & Radiona, Zagreb April 12. 2019

at PIKSEL 18 in Bergen, Norway 2018

at Knobs & Wires, Muenchen 2018

Wolfgang Spahn is a visual & sound artist based in Berlin. His work includes 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.
He is faculty member of the Sound Studies and Sonic Arts, Berlin University of the Arts.

Portfolio in Deutsch


Here is most of the hard- and software the artist developed for his artwork.
- Analog Computer
- Pop Neuron
- Paper-Duino
- Paper Synthesizer
- Paper Bits
- Raspberry Pi Hats
- VGA Synthesizer
- Sound Boards



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