Sound Department Colloquium: Luftwerk and Katherine Young

Wednesday, January 29, 4:15 p.m.5:45 p.m.
112 S Michigan Ave
United States
The Sound Department Colloquium Series is a weekly series of presentations by the department's visiting artists and scholars, faculty, graduate students and invited guests. The lecture on January 29 will feature visiting artists Luftwerk (Petra Poul Bachmaier and Sean Gallero) and Katherine Young. They will be discussing Requiem: A White Wanderer, their collaboration at the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.
Luftwerk explores light, color, and perception in immersive, experience-based installations. Focused on the context of a site for each project, Luftwerk applies their own interpretive layer, integrating the physical structure, historical context, and embedded information into each piece. Since founding in 2007, Luftwerk has amassed a significant body of work ranging from site-specific installations to experimental projects that interpret data. In each project they are interested in the abilities of how light and color can be utilized to shift perception and enhance experience. Luftwerk is the artistic collaboration of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero.


Katherine Young makes electroacoustic music using expressive noises, curious timbres, and kinetic structures to explore the dramatic physicality of sound, shifting interpersonal dynamics, and tensions between the familiar and the strange. As an improviser, Katherine amplifies her bassoon and employs a flexible electronics set up for solo and collaborative performances. The LAPhil’s Green Umbrella series, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Ensemble Dal Niente, Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, Weston Olencki, Nico Couck / Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt, Fonema Consort, and others have commissioned her music. She’s excited about coming-soon projects with Lucy Dehgrae for Resonant Bodies Festival, WasteLAnd and RAGE, Distractfold Ensemble’s Linda Jankowska, Callithumpian Ensemble, and Yarn/Wire. She’s releasing new music this year with Michael Foster & Michael Zerang, Wet Ink, and Amy Cimini (as Architeuthis Walks on Land).

Requiem: A White Wanderer is an ongoing art and sound project by Chicago-based collaborative Luftwerk to inspire a robust public dialogue about climate change here in Chicago and beyond. Inspired by Larsen-C, a 120-mile long crack that ran along the Antarctic ice shelf and broke into a trillion-ton iceberg named A 68 in 2017, Requiem: A White Wanderer translates seismic data from this ailing iceberg into an emotional experience, connecting the public to the urgency of climate change. The source data is based on the seismic recordings made by Douglas MacAyeal, a world-renowned glaciologist based out of the University of Chicago. MacAyeal has recorded seismic data over a multi-year time period, observing the movement of iceberg B15 from its first cracking to its disintegration across the globe. Seismic data is a low frequency sonic signal, inaudible to the human ear, but it can be perceived and felt throughout the ocean system, traveling through trenches and the SOFAR channel from the Antarctic to Haiti and beyond.

Amplified from the latticed sound system of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the sound system will bring audiences into the way that aquatic animals might experience a calving iceberg, with the sounds of its disintegration reverberating throughout the ocean. Several Sound Walk tours will be presented throughout the weekend to give more guidance to the intricacies of the installation.

The installation is accompanied by two special concerts at 5pm and 7pm on Saturday, February 1. Over the course of 2019 as part of their Outer Ear Residency at Experimental Sound Studio, Luftwerk has been working in collaboration with composer Katherine Young to create a musical composition for orchestra and voice based on these sonic signals. This composition will premiere in two special concerts at 5pm and 7pm on Saturday, February 1. Illuminated sculptural objects will fill the stage's space with shadows and reflections creating a visual topography as if in a glacial landscape. Free registration for the concerts is recommended since seating is limited.