Gerhard Eckel uses sound to explore ways of world making. He aims at articulating the aesthetic and epistemic dimensions of sound art, understanding artistic experience as a hybrid of action, perception and reflection. His works are the result of research processes drawing on the practice and theory of music composition, sound art, choreography and dance, installation art, interaction design and digital instrument making. He is professor of Computer Music and Multimedia at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz in Austria. He also serves as affiliated professor at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and as visiting professor at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Besides his artistic work and teaching, he leads publicly funded transdisciplinary research projects and supervises scholarly and artistic doctoral research.
Zeitraum (German for ‘timespan’, literally ‘time space’) is a sound environment exposing the interrelation of time and space in acoustic communication. The environment is composed of many identical sound sources dispersed irregularly in a large space, playing an aleatoric ostinato of percussive sounds. When listened to from a particular location (the sweet spot), the pattern is perceived as an accented but isochronous beat. The ostinato is structured such that the sounds from all sources arrive with the same delay at the sweet spot, compensating for the differences in propagation time. When walking away from the sweet spot, the regular pulse gets more and more distorted as the distances to all sound sources change and with them the propagation delays from the sources to the listener. What starts as almost imperceptible deviations and passes through various areas with different kinds of grooves, ends up in a rhythmically completely disrupted and apparently chaotic sequence of events when listened to from far off the sweet spot. By moving about the space, the audience explores a space literally made out of time, a time space – a bewildering experience enacted through one’s locomotion, revealing the always baffling relativity of observation. With Zeitraum an aesthetic formulation of some of the basic constraints shaping the composition of spatial sound textures has been found, while touching upon fundamental conceptual and artistic conditions of possibility in electroacoustic music and sound art. The work exists in various formulations, one of which is this description. Zeitraum Göteborg (2015) is a reformulation of Zeitraum Graz (2013), which marked the end point of a series of case studies I conducted in the course of the artistic research project ‘The Choreography of Sound’ (Austrian Science Fund FWF, PEEK AR41). Zeitraum received a Honorary Mention from the Prix Ars Electronica 2015 in the category Digital Musics and Sound Art.