London

Florian Hecker, 3 Channel Chronics (detail), 2010/2012, one of three 7 7/8 x 11 3/4" C-prints from an installation additionally comprising a 17-minute 24-second three-channel electro-acoustic sound loop.

Florian Hecker, 3 Channel Chronics (detail), 2010/2012, one of three 7 7/8 x 11 3/4" C-prints from an installation additionally comprising a 17-minute 24-second three-channel electro-acoustic sound loop.

Florian Hecker

Sadie Coles HQ | Davies Street

Florian Hecker, 3 Channel Chronics (detail), 2010/2012, one of three 7 7/8 x 11 3/4" C-prints from an installation additionally comprising a 17-minute 24-second three-channel electro-acoustic sound loop.

In previous London shows, sound artist Florian Hecker pursued a kind of sonic sculpture, configuring his speakers carefully in space—sometimes bunched in groups, at others forming irregular lines—in order to precisely calibrate the sonic qualities of each work by creating direct waves of sound. In this way, the stark simplicity of Hecker’s installations, usually a few speakers attached to the walls or protruding from the ceiling, belies the complexity of the sounds his art creates. Subtle is perhaps not the best word to describe the range and volume of noise that occur in Hecker’s sound art, but the transitions and suggestions it encompasses create an unexpected complexity.

In this show, simple cubic speakers again delivered Hecker’s latest sound works, but this time they set the scene for a more densely layered, durational audio landscape. In Chimerization, 2012, one of three works using three-channel audio, which Hecker describes as a “text sound piece,” the speakers descend from the ceiling to create an open triangular space. But instead of the sculpted soundscapes of loud, wavering fluidity that characterized his past pieces, Chimerization consists more of a staggered, fragmentary pinging that creates a flickering sense of ascent and descent. Against this electroacoustic background of clattering, clicking, twittering, and static, three booming voices permeate the space. The voices narrate a libretto by the Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani, “The Snake, the Goat and the Ladder (a board game for playing chimera),” which—according to the gallery—discusses the breaks between topology and sounds, nature and culture, but Hecker renders much of the speech inaudible and distorted. The voices nonetheless give a representational dimension to the piece, with words like snakes, ladders, chimera, and horizon uncannily recurring, as if to describe the space of some sinister board game. One is left with a sense of clashing urban sounds. Originally exhibited at Documenta 13, Chimerization is followed here by Hinge, 2012, a sequel, played on the same speakers.

In another room, 3 Channel Chronics, 2010/2012, attempted to provide a visual correlate to Hecker’s complex auditory phenomena. This three-channel electroacoustic sound work consists primarily of three speakers but also includes three images, one placed next to each speaker: digitally manipulated photographs of the same three speakers in a previous iteration of this work at Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien. In other words, the images refer to the same piece in another space and time. Hecker uses an algorithmic process to warp, degrade, and distort each installation view, so that it appears as if a delay were occurring as one’s eye traverses the image, in a visual analogue to the work’s stuttering sounds. The image becomes one of fluidity, perhaps suggesting an idea of what the sonic movement could be. The effect of these combinations of images and sounds is a visual reverb, where space at times seems to turn in on itself.

Many of Hecker’s sounds are originally sampled from chaotic urban environments, and the visual dissonance produced by his work, like his audio space, ultimately suggests an aural correlate to contemporary urban life. Human voices and electronic sound, analog and digital, melt into each other. The effect is disconcerting, all the more so because Hecker’s work mediates the external hubbub of city life rushing constantly by through the interiorized, digital space we virtually occupy every day: infinite, dark, filled with raw recesses.

Sherman Sam