Felix Ansmann is an artist, writer and researcher based in Berlin. His practice spans video, installation, sound and text and draws on his background in Anthropology and its experimental fringes, such as visual anthropology and auto-ethnography. He is interested in media infrastructures, infrastructures of control, and their effects on subjectivity.
Collaborative works with Kani Lent have been shown at CTM / Transmediale Vorpsiel and Museum für Fotografie Berlin. Their collaborative writing has been published by Paraeducational Papers.
For the Foreign Objekt Open Call, we propose a research project that re-examines the cultural practice and sonic genre of the lament for our contemporary moment. The lament constitutes an elegy for the deceased. It moves freely between spoken word and voices as sound rather than language, between the retelling of a person’s character and life and an abstract sound of mourning. Our research project speculates on the sound of mourning when life and death are increasingly digitized. We ask what a lament might be and sound like when more and more parts of our life are lived in the digital, when we leave a vast collection of traces behind as data, and when the reconstruction of a deceased person’s self from that data as an artificial entity becomes an increasingly feasible speculation. But we also understand lamentation as something that goes beyond the human: it could express mourning for a decaying environment or a collapsing ecology of technological and other non-human actors. With the lament, sound stands in direct relation to a void. Here, it marks the absence of something, the passing of something. The lament is at the same time an echo of something absent and the resonance of absence itself. In this way, it is fundamentally strange, eerie, weird.
But beyond what such a lament might sound like, we are also interested in how it might travel as a form of energy transmitted between nodes of a network. A lament in its conventional meaning vibrates through a congregation of human mourners, a speculative lament might travel between human, non-humans and technical objects alike. Here, we draw inspiration from Stefan Helmreichs concept of transduction: “sound is a form of energy transmitted through a medium. Often, that energy moves across or between media - from an antenna to a receiver, from an amplifier to an ear, from the lightness of air to the thickness of water. With such crossings, sound is transduced. [...] Transduction names how sound changes as it traverses media, as it undergoes transformations in its energetic substrate (from electrical to mechanical, for example), as it goes through transubstantiations that modulate both its matter and meaning.” This modulation of matter and meaning of the sound of mourning as it travels through our contemporary media ecology, populated by human, technological, and non-humans actors, is what we want to explore through experimental soundworks over the course of the residency.