P H O N U R G I A  M E T A L L I S

Installation. One series of three unique works of copper, iron & brass, sensors and contact speakers. © 2009

This work consists of three 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











The creation of this work was inspired by an eminent figure in the history of sound studies, Athanasius Kircher and his experimental approaches to exploring and visually manifesting sound generated from matter in motion.

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".

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

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