For the Sixth Annual Activating The Medium festival in 2003, 23five arranged a series of brief interviews between many of the participants at the festival. This conversation with CM von Hausswolff was conducted by Scott Arford.

Scott Arford: Your work has often dealt with paranormal or extrasensory phenomena—particularly your interest in electronic voice phenomena and the Operation of Spirit Communications techniques. In what ways do sympathetic vibration, resonance, and other waveform characteristics inform or aid these investigations?

CM von Hausswolff: In many ways these physical matters contain unexplored areas of action. They have to. They work like any other material. They call for attention. My investigations have nothing to do with scientific research—I leave that to the scientists. But from an artistic point of view I like the idea of the proposal. This proposal is purely taken from a non—scientific standpoint and serve only as the function that art can have: The possibility. Any physical state, in this case the state of sound and its relatives, serves as an instrument of proposal, a quasi—scientific or pre—conclusive object called art.

Do you pursue these matters following an empirical, scientific method like someone such as Vic Tandy (who maintains that inaudible, 19hz standing waves are responsible for some ghost sightings and measures frequencies and SPL levels at haunted sites). Or do you approach these things more intuitively?

I don't think that an artistic behaviour can be based on anything else than intuition. My work has nothing to add to the EVP research pioneered by Jürgenson or Raudive. It solely points out possibilities. It's sometimes there to give a hint, an alternative to a boring still life.

Have you ever heard (or felt) the Taos Hum?

No, but I know that Agnes Martin, that fabulous American artist, is spending her senior life in Taos, New Mexico. There must be a reason for that. Have you ever experienced the Chinese Great One?

Your work suggests that you have a preoccupation with the color Red—In "Red Night" you bathed an entire cemetery with deep red light, in "Red Pool" a swimming pool was dyed red, and in "Red Code" a gallery was flooded with blinding red light. In the visible color spectrum, red is relatively low frequency color, exhibiting a very long wavelength. Does this low frequency interest carry through to your sound work as well? Do you have a general interest in low frequency phenomena? In what ways you do you think the two are related?

I belive that if we could hear with our eyes we would hear colors, and if we could see with our ears we would see sound. The low frequency of the color red works very well with my work with low frequency sine waves. There are no charts where we can for sure note the equivalents of color and sound but by intuition I belive one can go very far. I have worked quite a lot with high frequency sounds as well and pretty soon other colors appears as well. When I was a kid I used to dwell upon the rainbow, but pretty fast I realized that this spectra worked like the 12 tone composition. It was totally jailed and in iron. The spectra of the ranges of frequencies and the range of color are fantastically eternal and contains a totality that is difficult to grasp theoretically, but very blissing emotionally ... the point is that they also go hand in hand—all the way.

Resonance and sympathetic vibration can produce some very bizarre and dramatic effects. One of the most well known and studied is the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. In 1940 a brand new suspension bridge, collapsed due to vibrations caused by the wind. The wind blowing against the bridge caused it to sway in such a way that produced standing waves. Under continual agitation from the wind, the waves amplified themselves until ultimately the forces exceeded the design tolerances and structural failure occurred. Sound (and light) can also exhibit similar behaviors and produce interesting results. Does your work employ resonance and sympathetic vibration in a similar manner?

Yes, but it is never an instrument for damage. I rather show the connection between a special combination of frequencies and a space. If I enhanced this function the building would probably come down, but I'm not interested in this. The military has proved this a long time ago, we don't need to go through that again. What I want to do is to establish a connection with architects: to "teach" architects that it's not enough to just look at visual dimensions. Sound is of vital importance and it will also envision that its easier to construct a building consulting a sound engineer along the road ...

As we all know, sound waves can resonate objects causing them to vibrate—sound energy is turned into physical energy and, indeed, physical energy can be turned into heat energy. It is believed that all biological organisms exhibit wave—like bio—electrical properties—they vibrate at certain frequencies. Do you think that sound waves can have a resonant effect on people at a biological or physiological level?


It's so obvious that sound waves have various effects on people (and animals, insects—whatever that is alive) and that it triggers various modes depending on the frequency combination used. The Muzak Corporation have known this for a long time. It's a very complex question that need more than a sentence to go through. I think every musician knows the importance of the sound wave—otherwise they wouldn't be so fucked up in their minds trying to figure out why they're so popular. It's not the songwriter that's important, it's the frequency combination!

If you were a photon of light would you rather rather exhibit characteristics of a particle or a wave?


I think that if one moves into the characteristics of a particle you would find many waves—but aesthetically I would go for the flow, for the wave, getting hooked up by particles here and there ...

Boundaries and definition of space have been important considerations in your work. Typically these conditions are thought of in terms of physical or political barriers (walls, landscapes, borders of countries) How can sound alter, create, or modify these conditions?

Maybe the problems with different countries are that they are not so different and that they tend to take out each others. They race. It's know that to avoid a certain frequency you can "shoot" the same frequency at it and eliminate it. In certain spaces certain frequencies work better than others and that's maybe why whites don't like blacks in the south US, maybe that's why the blacks don't like the whites in the south US. Frequencies sometimes just don't get along, you increase the volume on the 7 589 Hz and hell brakes loose ...

What artistic, practical, or sinister uses do you think could be found for a "cartography of sound"?

Artistic: When you want to know the time, you line up 20 people with no clocks, then you ask them what time they think it is. Then you add all the numbers and divide it by 20. Then you'll get the correct time.

Practical: Not doing like Stockhausen—asking for it. Just do it!

Sinister: "Don't hide it! Provide it!" as Jim Thirlwell used to sing... it would be nice to know what frequencies it was that got the walls of Jericho to tumble down ...

I do belive that Pierre Schaeffer was doing all right with his early attempts to organize sounds. The problem is that there should have been 10,000 artists doing it from 1948 until now. Then we would have a wonderful multidimensional map... I don't think we should wait for George Bush II to provide the funding for such a task; he would only invade India, The Middle East, and China to get the primers on the subject. Then he would keep it in the vaults for 50 years, as the have tried to do with the sonic investigations of the 20th century.