A Chimeric Visualization of Sound

Florian Hecker at Mehringdamm 72, 2012.

Florian Hecker’s new book Chimerizations introduces a new way of visually representing sonic experiments. Chimerizations documents six of his most recent projects with an introduction by Tate Modern curator Catherine Wood and an essay by MIT Professor of Anthropology Stefan Helmreich.

The book is at once a record of Hecker’s sound works and an artistic foray into the nature of visualization and psychoacoustic (sound perception) practice. Images, graphs, and texts are transformed through what Hecker calls chimerization, a process of decomposition and reconfiguration that relies on the same computerized SIFT flow algorithm used in his sound experiments.

In his essay, Stefan Helmreich traces the cultural and biological concept of the chimera — a term that stems from Greek mythology and refers to a three-headed hybrid beast — as the underpinning of life and evolution as well as the inspiration behind Hecker’s experimental sound interventions. Recorded at MIT in an anechoic chamber (an echo-less space), the sound piece Chimerization decomposes the readings of Reza Negarestani’s trilingual libretto “The Snake, the Goat and the Ladder (A board game for playing chimera).” Through auditory chimerism, Hecker deconstructs our “common sense about sound, hearing, and listening” only to put it back together through the SIFT flow algorithm that dismisses “any humanist model of hearing,” Helmreich explains. In Pitchfork’s review of Chimerization, Grayson Currin notes Hecker’s “multivalent system of exploration, where our central storytelling instrument — that is, the human voice — has become equal parts messenger, trickster and mystery.” The Wire writes: “Florian Hecker’s uncommonly intense installations … turn [the] gaze inward, using a sound environment to address the physiology and the psychology of the listening process itself.”

The projects included in the book are “Magnitude Estimation,” 2010; “Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera,” 2011; “Bregman/Deutsch Chimera,” 2011; “Chimerization (MIT Project),” 2011; “Chimerization” 2012; and “Hinge,” 2012. The sound piece Chimerization, a collaboration with Iranian philosopher and writer Reza Negarestani, premiered in 2012 at Documenta 13 and has since been exhibited at Sadie Coles HQ (London). The book was published by Primary Information, a non-profit organization devoted to artists’ books, writings, and out of print publications. Chimerizations is available for sale at the MIT Press Bookstore and online.

As an ACT lecturer, Hecker teaches Introduction to Sound Creations. In his teaching and artistic practice he focuses on compositional developments of post-war modernity, electro-acoustic music, and other non-musical disciplines related to the psycho-physics of hearing and listening. In 2011, Hecker was a visiting artist in the Arts at MIT Visiting Artist Program. He has performed and exhibited widely including at MD72, Berlin; Lumiar Cité, Lisbon; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; IKON Gallery, Birmingham; Chisenhale Gallery, London; and Bawag Contemporary, Vienna. Florian Hecker’s Full Profile


FACT Magazine book review

The Wire Chimerization review

Pitchfork Chimerization review