Jacob Kirkegaard – Labyrinthitis

Jacob Kirkegaard

CD – Touch
Vibrations travel through air and are captured by our hearing apparatus. The cochlea is a spiral-shaped pipe with tiny ciliate cells working as sensitive receptors. By modulating the amplitude and frequency of sound waves, these cells can be stimulated so much that the underlying membrane also vibrates. This reaction produces another sound, 
weak but perceptible – a process that can be measured and even recorded by special microphones. The scientific term for these sounds is ‘otoacoustic emissions’ (OAEs) and these reactions, if properly stimulated, can give rise to third frequencies, autonomously created by the structure of the ears themselves. Jacob Kirkegaard, in ‘Labyrinthitis’, uses different frequency ranges to build an effective interactive composition that makes us feel the ‘spatiality’ and ‘materiality’ of sounds with an elaboration halfway between applied 
science and musicology (inspired by the 18th century Italian composer Giuseppe Tartini, the first to analyze this peculiar acoustic phenomenon). It shows us that the ear is not a mere passive mechanical transducer, but it hosts active mechanisms which are directly 
responsible for the encoding of signals.