An electromechanical acoustic artwork on evolution

The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg is developing a permanent exhibition scheduled to open in 2014, featuring the most prominent specimens from its internationally renowned natural history collection. The exhibition’s concept is unlike any other in Europe at present; it intends to explore the phenomenon of biological evolution using optical, haptic, olfactory and acoustic media.
A temporary exhibition titled Cicadas, supervised by research director Frank Steinheimer, offered a preview of the innovative character of this forward-looking concept, demonstrating the fruitful liaison between art and biology. Its primary goal was to illustrate the coincidental and unpredictable nature of evolutionary processes. In a room, specially designed by the set designer Oliver Proske, an acoustic installation recreated the sounds produced by a colony of chirping cicadas. The insects were imitated by 60 electromechanical objects which generated cicada-like sounds and could even communicate with each other in a similar way. Not only did they react to the visitors, but their behaviour also underwent an evolution of adaptation and modification. The result was a “living” system of unpredictable, yet rule-driven acoustic interactions, based on cicada communication patterns and the musical compositions by the Argentinean sound artist and composer Edgardo Rudnitzky.

Artist: Edgardo Rudnitzky (RA); Scenography: Oliver Proske; Research director: Frank Steinheimer


Zentralmagazin Naturwissenschaftlicher Sammlungen der
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Domplatz 4

06108 Halle an der Saale (external link, opens in a new window)