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ECOLALIA: Art & Science at the Ars Electronica in Linz

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Copyright: Klaus Spiess

The "Art & Science" working group of the Center for Public Health at MedUni Vienna is once again participating in Ars Electronica in Linz as part of an FWF project (AR 687), as well as in other exhibitions in Vienna. Klaus Spiess' performance focuses on language and the microbiome.

One third of biological species and nine tenths of languages will have disappeared by the beginning of the next century. Under the impression of this simultaneous decline in diversity, Klaus Spiess, head of the interdisciplinary program "Art & Science" of the Center for Public Health at MedUni Vienna, and the Austrian artists Ulla Rauter, Emanuel Gollob and Rotraud Kern have developed "ECOLALIA". Here, the "poetry of extinction" is understood as a profound learning process that starts from real-time chemo-vibrational conditioning of oral microbes.

"ECOLALIA shows the complex balance between our language and the needs of our oral flora," says Klaus Spiess. "It is an experimental setup configured with deep learning and artificial intelligence. The tonal, vibrating voice that unfolds, especially when singing and moaning, stimulates the microbes to grow, while the noise of alphabetic speech, as amplified when whispering, stresses the oral microbes and causes them to die."

To sensitize the oral microbiota to interact with phonemes as part of the performance, the repetitive speech sounds of a performer and the audience are "skeletonized" down to their phonetic structure, sonic materiality, tonal vibration and noisiness.  The listeners visually and acoustically attune their speech sounds to the life and death of their fragile oral flora.

„ECOLALIA“, Ars Electronica, Linz

„Holobiont“, Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Wien

„The Devil To Pay In The Backlands“, Neuer Kunstverein Wien