Biennale of Sydney

Jacob Kirkegaard

Jacob Kirkegaard, Through the Wall, 2013

Jacob Kirkegaard, Through the Wall, 2013

Jacob Kirkegaard

Born 1975 in Esbjerg, Denmark
Lives and works in Jyderup, Denmark


Artist and composer Jacob Kirkegaard explores the sonic potential of a diverse range of environments including subterranean geysers, empty rooms within the exclusion zone at Chernobyl, iron bridges spanning the Rhine and Daugava rivers, and glacial formations in the Arctic. Approaching the world through rigorous scientific research, Kirkegaard investigates the unique phonic qualities of specific locations, generating field recordings which he then transforms into aural compositions. Combining his sound pieces with video imagery or other media, Kirkegaard’s works often take the form of immersive installations that encourage the audience to engage with their surroundings on multiple sensory levels.


While many of his artworks explore our external environment, Kirkegaard has also investigated the way we hear and understand sound by looking closely at the auditory apparatus of the human body. Using specialised microphones inserted into the human ear, Kirkegaard has recorded the tones generated within the inner ear itself, known as spontaneous otoacoustic emissions. Using these recordings to create sound compositions that are interpreted by vocalists, Kirkegaard has created a series of works that explore the connection between the ear and the mouth. Fascinated by the way we experience the world through listening, Kirkegaard uses sound as a vehicle through which to question our understanding of the human body and to explore our visual, spatial and auditory perception of the world.

For Through the Wall, 2013, Kirkegaard travelled to Palestine and Israel to record the sounds of the Israeli West Bank Barrier – also known as the Apartheid Wall – using vibration sensors and acoustic microphones to collect resonances and reverberations from either side of the structure. Within the gallery space, viewers can walk around a monolithic replica of the wall with built-in speakers that radiate a composition Kirkegaard made from the ambient recordings. A deep rumbling hum, punctuated by car horns, voices and the cries of birds, merges with the sounds of vehicles and the sonorous call to prayer. Kirkegaard refrains from expressing his political position, instead placing emphasis on the importance of listening.

Website: http://fonik.dk/