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Jason Kahn

«Room to Room»

The material for “Room to Room” was taken from the following three sound installations:

«Nach innen nach aussen»


Kunstraum Aarau
Aarau, Switzerland
June 6–July 6, 2008
Eight channel audio installation.
The idea behind «Nach innen nach aussen» (to inside to outside) was to turn around the
customarily accepted notion of the exhibiton space as something sealed off from the outside
world. I decided to bring the outside world back into this otherwise hermetic space.
Using various contact and condensor microphones hung outside the windows of the third
story Kunstraum, I fed the sound environment from outside back into the exhibtion space.
I diffused eight separate streams of sound to eight metal cans (normally used to mix paint)
hung from the ceiling of the space. In each can was a small speaker.
I kept the audio streams at a relatively low volume, making it possible to go from can to can
and hearing their distinct sounds.
Experienced as a whole when walking around the space the installation took on an eerie life
of its own, with snippets of voices, wind, cars passing, rain falling, birds singing and even
sounds which weren't there to begin with (one visitor to the exhibition told me she heard water
running) phasing in and out within the relatively resonant confines of the Kunstraum's
exhibition space.

«Treppenhaus Kunstraum»
Kunstraum Aarau
Aarau, Switzerland
June 6–July 6, 2008
Two channel, eight speaker audio installation
for the stairway to the Kunstraum Aarau.
Stairways are one of my favorite places to work in. For my exhibition in the Kunstraum Aarau I
asked to use the narrow winding stairway leading up to the third-story exhibition space.
As in my previous works «Glengarry Block Stairwell» and «Townhouse Stairwell,»
«Treppenhaus Kunstraum» deals with the notion of a non-space, a transit space, a space
nobody normally pays any attention to. I want to bring these spaces to life, but working with
sounds that barely register on a conscious level.
The house of the Kunstraum Aarau is well over 100 years old and the wooden staircase is
pretty creaky. On the fourth floor above the Kunstraum is a social club for Spanish
immigrants, which itself gets pretty loud during opening hours. As there is a freight elevator
almost nobody takes the stairway. Using an old broken mixing desk and two ungrounded
cables I managed to create some sounds which accentuated the inherent creakiness and
twisting acoustics of the old stairway.
«Zum Bahnhof zur Stadt»
Aarau Bahnhof
Aarau, Switzerland
June 6–July 6, 2008
One channel audio installation for a display
case under the Aarau train station.
«Zum Bahnhof zur Stadt» (to the train station to the city) follows a similair line of thinking as
my work «Triemli Passage,» where through the use of a continuously generated sound I try to
accentuate and perhaps even also subvert the inherent sound environment of a space. In this
case I worked with a room beneath the train station in the Swiss city of Aarau.
Unlike with «Triemli Passage,» where the given space (a pedestrian underpass) was
comparitively quiet, this space under the Aarau train station was rather loud and, at time,
even raucous, with teenagers taking their lunch break nearby and groups of men drinking
beer at tables placed in front of a small store. There was also a bakery, a magazine shop and
the normal array of sounds one would associate with a train station: namely, the trains
passing in and out of the station overhead. Several generators and large fans mounted in
various recesses of the space going on at random intervals added the final touch.
After much trial and error I decided on a steady stream of pink noise issued from two
speakers mounted inside the top of a large glass display case. Lit from inside by bright
flourescent tubes the case became a glowing sound object, glowing like a solid block of noise.
The pink noise itself I generated at a volume just below the normal sound level of the space. I
returned at many times during the day (during peak commuter surges to late afternoon lulls)
to find the right balance. At times the noise was clearly audible, at others easily subsumed in
the din of the existing environment.