Echo State Networks

the sonification of the computing process in an analog neural network, 2019

Can one hear the firing of neurons? Does their action potential have pitch and timbre? How do patterns and structures of a neural network look and sound? And what will happen if the network listen and sees these sound and pattern – and all that in a feedback loop?

At the core of the light and sound installation “Echo State Network” by Wolfgang Spahn there will be an artificial analog neural network that will generate sound.


The artist Wolfgang Spahn created an analogue neuron as part of his analogue computer “Confetti”. More than 100 of the Confetti Neurons will build an analog version of a so called “Echo State Network”. That is a particular kind of model of a recurrent neural network. At it‘s core is a complex and back coupling neural network, similar to a Liquid-State Machine.

The input layer of that network will have sound and light sensors that react on brightness and different frequencies. These information will be processed in the Echo State Network and than outputted with a layer of firing neurons. To make this phenomena hear able 8 speaker will amplifier the action in the network on 8 different nodes.

“Echo State Networks” was shown at Alt. Space Loop as part of the exhibition Sound Effects Seoul Korea, 2019.
With support of Goethe Institute Korea.

… and many thanks to Martin Kuentz for all the soldering help.



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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