capacitive body | description


Silence is gone from today's urban spaces. Noise pollution is produced, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can close our eyes, but our ears are always open. Unnatural sound disrupts the activity and balance of human or animal life. Noise in a range of low frequencies is imperceptible by our ears, but is sensed by the whole body. This unheard sound becomes part of our everyday life.

The installation "capacitive body" is a modular light system that reacts to the sound of its environment. Each custom built module consists of an electroluminescent light wire linked to a piezoelectric sensor and a microcontroller. Through its modular setup it can easily be adapted to various urban spaces.

The sensors are used to measure vibrations of architectural solids in a range of low frequencies. These oscillations are triggered by surrounding ambient noise, for example traffic noise. The sensor data controls the light wires, which are tensed to a spatial net structure. According to the values of the measurement light flashes are generated. With increasing vibrations the time between flashes becomes shorter and shorter. The stability of this nervous system gets to an end where it collapses and restarts again. A dynamic light space is thereby created, which creates a visual feedback of the aural activity around the installation.

Statement by: Dirk Lellau
It is clear that we are not looking at mere forms. The incisions – and only as such can we first perceive these temporary rearrangements of the space – amount to nothing less than proto-architectural gestures.

In the expanded field of the architectural object, the structure of the horizon allows a perception of what can be called spatial presentness. This perception relates to the moment in which a possible spatial condition becomes an actual spatial condition, and therefore relates a structure of division to a space of transition. One speaks of something as ’looming on the horizon’, accentuating the aspect of time that is inherent in the structure of the horizon. In this figure, time is thought to ‘move’ through the horizon in two directions: as much as events may intrude and change one’s frame of reference, expectations create spaces to accommodate such events. It is partly in this sense that one could argue that the horizon is a space that can be inhabited, or, in other words, that it can provide spaces that open our imagination for possible ways of inhabitation. The regulation of absence1 brought about by the structure of the horizon not only positions the subject in relation to distance as such, but also provides a spatial understanding for the actualization of the possible.

The architectural project in relation to the architectural object can be thought of as a collapse. The etymology of the term ‘project‘, and therefore its usage as both noun and verb, implies an inner distance between an anticipated and a present spatiality. This distance fosters a paradoxical longing. It creates the wish to overcome it, as well as a desire for a state that remains open, not yet clearly defined. The tension and potential so produced wither as the object nears completion. The definition of architectural space is therefore also a definition of lost possibilities. One could argue that decisions related to the plan of a building – those that concern that which stands in the most direct opposition to human movement through space – have longer-lasting validity than those that relate to vertical arrangement. It is for this reason that the definition of the boundaries of an architecture are of particular importance. These definitions first find expression through lines.

“The living lives at the limit of itself, on its limit …”2 It is the placement of the work together with the disruption of time as a continuum that allows one to speak not only of a ‘capacitive body’, but also of a ‘liminal body’,3 and which therefore allows one to speak of a breach and, again, of transitions. The work engages the physical presence of the architecture on the level of lines – that is, its origins. It thereby reverts the architecture to a primal state that can be subjected to the inscription of other, possible, formal arrangements and transformed into a state of continuous inner transition. This process of ambiguation takes place within a doublelayered façade of the architecture – itself an ambiguous definition of its spatial extent – and promotes a confrontation of time related to the experience of the architecture with time inherent in the work. The continuous re-inscription of forms constitutes an opening and a receptive space, which involves the subject in processes of synthesis and speculation on new spatial arrangements. It is the opening up of this space within an urban context that for me holds the architectural potential of the work.

Dirk Lellau, 2010-05-11

khm lab3