Background Information

The raw material for the sound of »Surf’’« consists of seismic measurement data of local ground movements recorded during one day, whose vertical frequency component is accelerated by factors of 800 to 2,205 for playback. In this way, 24 hours of recorded movements are compressed into 39 to 108 seconds of sound. This sonification method is called audification, and is comparable e.g. to infrared photography in the visual field. Audification unlocks the space of the imperceptible, enabling us to hear the vibrations of the ground. Indeed, when surfing the sound material, vibrations caused by local factors such as wind, waves, traffic etc. become just as audible to us as the regional and global tectonic and volcanic activity. In such audifications, vibrations triggered by anthropogenic movements mix with naturally-induced vibrations generating a sound spectrum comprising 17 octaves. This range goes far beyond customary audio formats and explains the immensely rich tonal spectrum, which usually unfolds to the ear only gradually and after listening many times.

»Surf« is a post-conceptual work and exists in three variants: (1st) as an exhibition object entitled »Surf« (shown among others, in the Galerie Haferkamp, Cologne, 2006; in the Riga Art Center, 2008; and the Museum Ludwig, Koblenz 2011); (2nd) as a concert performance entitled »Surf’« (premiered 7th March 2013 at the MUMUTH in Graz) with a minimum of 8+1 loudspeakers; and (3rd) as a website entitled »Surf’’« (published 4 March 2013) on this platform. Regarding the sound material, additional aesthetic decisions are taken on the choice of stations, the time window, the acceleration factor and the compression method for each individual case. In photography, the equivalent would be the choice of motif, image frame, lens, exposure time and aperture setting.

For more information on »Surf«, refer to Kunsthalle Bern (ed.): “Florian Dombois: What Are the Places of Danger. Works 1999-2009”, Berlin, argobooks, 2010, pp. 56-59. For the technical procedure of auditory seismology consult and the technical data published on the work »Luginsland« (2006) at the