“Colliding Realities: Acoustical Accidents and Clouded Texts in Stelarc’s Internet Ear” presented by Søndergaard


Session Title:

  • Bio Art Session 2

Presentation Title:

  • Colliding Realities: Acoustical Accidents and Clouded Texts in Stelarc’s Internet Ear



  • When the Ethics Council held its annual meeting at the Utzon Center in Aalborg in October 2010, none of the participants at the meeting realized that a biotech ear was listening in. This was the result of coincidences and an acoustical accident: Someone turned on the speaker system by mistake in the exhibition spaces below the beautiful conference hall overlooking the fiord in Aalborg. In the exhibition space was located an artwork by the Australian artist Stelarc, Internet Ear, which was part of the exhibition Biotopia – Art in the Wet Zone. Thus Stelarc’s Internet Ear, suddenly and unwittingly, is able to ‘hear’ and ‘broadcast’ what was said at the Ethical Council meeting. The transmission is fed back to the ear as ‘speech-noise’ – and broadcasted once again as a transmission inside a transmission, etc., creating a feed-back loop of fragmented announcements from a debate on ethics.

    The Internet Ear by Stelarc addresses the situation where data and communications in a distributed public are ‘tagged’ in a context and no ‘real’ cultural conversation is taking place outside that distributed public space. In this paper, I will take a closer look at how the aesthetics of Internet Ear is being reloaded / remixed and argue that this event of ‘electronic ear-dropping’ is created by an emergent distributed public in a ‘cloud’ of accessible data. The acoustical accident of the Internet Ear, then, is addressing the issue of converging and diverging realities in a cloud culture – and point at the situation where cultural patterns as we know them are renegotiated online.

    Keywords: art, technology, collaborative, practice, action, situations, communication, theory

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