Artist invites urbanites to hidden sound show

German sound artist Christina Kubisch debuts her audio exhibition "Electrical Walks" in Shanghai. 
Josefine Bartels

German sound artist Christina Kubisch

ATMs, advertising panels, security systems, public transportation networks and mobile phones — the city has its own hidden sounds that you might not be able to notice.

German sound artist Christina Kubisch debuts her audio exhibition “Electrical Walks” in Shanghai, inviting city dwellers to explore the urban unheard and unnoticed world of sounds transformed from the electromagnetic fields.

The exhibition will be hosted by the UNArt Center with the support of the Department for Culture and Education of the German Consulate General in Shanghai.

“Every city has its own individual sounds,” the artist says. In “Electrical Walks”, Kubisch leads the audience to investigate the noises and rhythms unique to Shanghai with the aid of custom-made wireless headphones.

The exhibition venue, the UNArt Center, renovated from an old cinema popular during the 1950s and 60s, offers a perfect location for this sensory adventure as it sits by the towering office buildings at one side and old residential areas at another, which provides more complexities and possibilities.

Kubisch found electromagnetic waves are ubiquitous and any electromagnetic field can be transformed into sound. But it’s hard to capture them unless people put on a set of custom-built wireless headphones.

Every current in an electrical conductor generates an electromagnetic field. The magnetic component of these fields is picked up by the sensor coils in the headphones. And, after amplification, these signals are made audible by the little speaker systems in the headphones.

“The exhibition allows us to experience our cities in new and different ways,” the curator Gao Yi says. “The sounds we discover are at times barely perceptible, sometimes musical and rhythmic and at other times irregular, pulsating or extremely loud. Learning to navigate this previously unnoticed soundscape heightens our sensitivity and forces us to reevaluate our surroundings.”

Kubisch has started to transform basic technology into a medium for art creation, and produced a series of works including performances, installations and sculptures using electromagnetic induction since the 1970s. In 2003, she began tracking the electromagnetic fields of urban environments through city walks. Her new series that takes place in public spaces, “Electrical Walks,” has been exhibited around the world since 2004.


Exhibition Info

Date: November 9 - December 9

Venue: UNArt Center

Address: 150 North Nanquan Road, Pudong New Area

Artist Talk

Date: 7pm, November 9

Venue: The Exhibition Hall of Shanghai Tower, Multimedia Space

Address: 501 Yincheng Rd M., Pudong New Area

Visitors can book in advance on the official WeChat account of UNArt.

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