Jacob Kirkegaard © 2009

This work consists of three separate works; FERRUM, CUPRUM & AURICHALCUM - metal plates, one iron, one copper, and one brass, each measuring 100 cm square by 0,10 cm thick. The plates are hung in 1,5 mm steel wires from the ceiling 8 cm from the wall.
These very thin plates act like sensors to their surroundings, vibrating subtly in indirect response to sounds and movements in the room.
A contact microphone and a contact speaker are attached on the back side of each plate. The microphone picks up the resonance from within the plate, amplifies and redirects it back into the plate through the contact speaker.
Through this constant amplification and resonant feedback of subtle vibrations, the individual resonant frequencies of the iron, copper and brass plates are "mirrored" and unfolded within the material itself.

PHONURGIA METALLIS are three unique pieces and are sold separately. While FERRUM has been sold CUPRUM and AURICHALCUM are still available. For questions, private view or purchase please contact jacob (AT) fonik (DOT) dk



PHONURGIA METALLIS (Installation view), 2009, (FERRUM, CUPRUM, AURICHALCUM) Iron, Copper and Brass plate. Each 100 x 100 x 0.10 cm





Press text for Jacob Kirkegaard's solo exhibition MOTION... MATTERS, held at Helene Nyborg Contemporary in Copenhagen, January 2009:

Jacob Kirkegaard's works for the present exhibition were inspired by two eminent figures in the history of sound studies, Athanasius Kircher and Ernst Chladni,  and their experimental approaches to exploring and visually manifesting sound generated from matter in motion. While Kircher subjected liquids to vibration in order to demonstrate how music "moves" matter (and by extension the mind), Kirkegaard works with the vibrations within copper, iron and brass plates to show how each material can "mirror" its own resonant characteristics. Vibrating metal plates were also used by Chladni, who coated them with sand in order to examine the different visual patterns created by different frequencies; this aspect is further explored in Kirkegaard's photographic stills of the "Singing Sands" phenomenon, where the medium of sand is represented both as a source and as a trace of sonic vibration.

In his book "Phonurgia Nova" ("new ways of sound production"), the Jesuit physician and scientist Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 1680) analyzes and illustrates how different "humors" or temperaments are affected by musical vibrations: Each matter and each person will be "moved" differently by the same music, according to their different resonant characteristics. Kircher “proved” this in an experiment with five glass goblets, each filled with a different liquid (water, wine, blood, etc.) representing the character of one of the five "humors". When a moistened finger was rubbed around the rims of the glasses, producing a musical tone, each fluid was set in a different degree of motion.

Jacob Kirkegaard's PHONURGIA METALLIS ("sound production through metals") takes up this proposition of Kircher's. Three metal plates (copper, brass, and iron) are caused to vibrate through their own subtle resonant activity, which is being amplified and played back simultaneously. Even though the three plates are of exactly the same size and will "mirror" the same sounds from their environment, they turn out to be "affected" in different ways, for each matter has its own resonant "humor".

The question of whether there is a (visible) connection between sound, vibration and physical matter was explored more scientifically by Ernst Chladni (1756-1827), a German musician and physicist who is often referred to as the "father of acoustics". Chladni observed that when a metal plate covered with sand was made to vibrate by running a violin bow across it, a pattern emerged in the sand, which would visualize the nodal regions of the vibrations. In this way Chladni managed not only to prove that sound affects physical matter in a measurable, repeatable manner, he also created a visualization of sound.

The photographic work presented in this exhibition can be understood, in a number of ways, as an artistic reference to the "Chladni plates". NAGARAS ("drum") is a series of attempts to look more closely at sound through the traces of movement in sand. However, in contrast to Chladni's symmetrical, documentary and predictable representations of "frozen" patterns, Kirkegaard's still images of momentary patterns were shot while the sand was in rapid motion, actively emitting sound from within itself. They attempt to visualize the rare and fleeting process of natural sound production known as "The Singing Sands".

Installation view. CUPRUM: Copper plate to the left. AURICHALCUM: Brass plate to the right. Each 100 x 100 x 0.10 cm

Listen to recordings of the pieces. The microphone was held 5 cm from the plate



PHONURGIA METALLIS (Installation view), 2009, FERRUM (Iron plate) 100 x 100 x 0.10 cm (SOLD)