Isolated Soundscapes: The Ear and the Speaker

<Discussion, eng.>

Adam Merki, Julian Umhaller, Enrique Tomás and Echo Ho
Sunday, June 6, 2021
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Location: Open University, Urfahrmarkt area


Isolated Sounds: The Ear and the Speaker is less about the biological process of hearing than about the isolation of sounds during listening and the production of sounds themselves. We only hear in comparison to what is audible and by no means hear the actual sound, but rather create the sound in our head. However, to accomplish this feat, we have to isolate the signal from the noise and give in to our “hearing instruments,” we even have to and tend to engage in the process of naturalization. Yet, this process is not disempowerment, but empowerment, because an awareness of the pitfalls of sound allows us to relate to sound itself. Thus, despite the moment of isolation and distance from the actual sound, sound remains a medium of participation because without hearing, isolation, and interpretation, it does not work.


Adam Merki recently joined the master’s program MKKT (Media Culture/Art Theory) at Kunstuniversität Linz. His interests consist of modern media, the “Gesamtkunstwerk” after Wagner, and art and society from the early 20th century till today. Sound has been a preoccupation since he graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Professional Performance – Bass and Professional Music in 2012. In regards to Isolated Soundscapes, his hope, alongside Julian Umhaller, is to strengthen sound as an area of study sound at the Kunstuniversität Linz.

Julian Umhaller has studied in the master’s program MKKT (Media Culture/Art Theory) at the Kunstuniversität Linz since the Winter Semester 2019/20. Throughout his scientific development, he has been focusing his studies on sound and its vast possibilities. Thus, his focal point is sound as a divisive method of narration. Interlaced with his scientific focus on technological development and establishment is his work on experimentation and possibilities in electronic music, such as modular synthesizers and other technical musical instruments.

Enrique Tomás (* 1981) is a sound artist and researcher who dedicates his time to finding new ways to express himself through sound, art, and technology. The similarities between sound art, computer music, local media, and human-machine interaction are part of his research. Tomás has had performances and exhibitions among others at ZKM Karlsruhe, Ars Electronica, Sónar, SMAK, STEIM, and many more. He has presented the results of his research at international conferences such as NIME, ICMC, SMC, TEI, and TENOR and has received various grants for his artistic (Telefónica Vida, Phonos Foundation,  Art Council of Madrid, etc.)

Echo Ho is a Beijing-born, Cologne-based interdisciplinary artist. She studies as a doctoral candidate at the Kunstuniversität Linz. Music-making through gardening and radical embodiment in post-digital contexts are central to her research. She graduated from the Kunsthochschule für Medien (KHM) and also received a fellowship from the Graduate School at the UDK Berlin. Her work has been exhibited worldwide in places such as the He Xiangning Art Museum Shenzen, Center-A in Vancouver, ZKM Karlsruhe, and ISEA Ruhr. She has held lectures and workshops at numerous Universities (London, Hangzhou, Beijing, Wien, Colombia)