Florian Hecker: Resynthesizers

(Los Angeles, CA) Equitable Vitrines presents Resynthesizers, a project by Florian Hecker (b. 1975, Germany) sited within an outstanding example of early Los Angeles Modernism: the Fitzpatrick-Leland House, designed by RM Schindler in 1936. Resynthesizers is on view from November 21, 2021, through March 13, 2022. Appointments can be made on the Equitable Vitrines website

Florian Hecker works primarily with synthetic sound, the listening process, and the audience’s auditory experience. Both abstract and material, his works are informed by sophisticated technical processes, yet manifest as rich subjective situations that evade categorization and linguistic description. 

Extending earlier projects that experimented with the impressionistic or even hallucinatory relationship between sonic objects, the auditory encounter, and our self-perception within space, Resynthesizers advances a more recent line of inquiry engaged with bleeding-edge approaches to computational auditory analysis and the synthesis of sensory materials and meaning. 

Complementing the visitor’s path through Schindler’s “plastic architecture of space” with a shifting ensemble of multimodal components, Resynthesizers dramatizes the decomposition and recomposition of sonic, textual, and olfactory agents, presenting singular and striking sensory elements that remain unidentifiable, the combination of which solicits the visitor’s participation in order to “make sense.” 

The domestic setting, at first sight, sparse and functional, is filled with sound emitted by a system of industrial audio equipment transmitting three sound pieces Resynthesizers 0.1–0.3 (2021). 

The duration of these pieces exceeds the course of the exhibition. Visitors encounter minutely choreographed fragments of these works, originating from a vast dictionary of resynthesized sounds, affording a contact zone filled with auditory similarities and perpetual differences. 

Resynthesizers 0.1-0.3 were produced using a novel algorithm for texture synthesis, developed by Axel Roebel and members of the Analysis/Synthesis team at IRCAM, Paris. The scientific analysis of sound and the quantification of auditory sensation dates back to the beginnings of psychophysics in the late nineteenth century and has developed continually ever since; the three compositions produced for Resynthesizers respond to this history while addressing questions concerning machine listening, the semantic reconstruction of perceptual objects, and the unrepresentable. 

Olfactory accords created by Marc vom Ende and Philip Kraft of Symrise in response to the project are diffused at three discrete locations throughout the building. Making use of three significant milestones of fragrance chemistry dating from 1874, 1966, and 2021 respectively, this deployment creates an odor space in which a synthetic analog of a familiar organic scent interacts with one molecule that evokes bracing natural elements and another redolent of the Californian modern lifestyle. 

Cues to these epochs are further echoed in the libretto by philosopher Robin Mackay, who has collaborated with Hecker on previous projects including FAVN (2017) and Inspection II (2017–19). This diffused text consists of a stream of reports on the four components of the work: the space constructed by Schindler and its place in the Californian project, the resynthesis of auditory textures and of fragrance chemistry components, and the text of the libretto itself, materialized in the form of three disparate micro-encapsulated electrophoretic (“E-ink”) displays. A stark series of laconic slogans seeded with fragments from FAVN, Inspection, and other shared sources from Hecker and Mackay’s work together, these broken impressions offer no discursive overview or context but instead diffuse semantic, lexical, phonic, and graphic molecules as a further element to be scanned and processed. 

The molecular construction of sensory experience enabled by the technical manipulation and synthesis of materials emerges as a central theme of Resynthesizers. The regime of these immaterials disjoins sensation from inherited conceptual models, and in the encounter with its resyntheses we are challenged to reintegrate sense and formulate new concepts. The visitor’s experience within Resynthesizers is bifurcated; immersed in disparate materials that are not easily reconciled, they are also compelled to conceptually engage with the ways in which a nascent machine consciousness senses, structures, and resynthesizes reality. 

About the Artist 

Florian Hecker (b. 1975, Germany) works with synthetic sound, the listening process, and the audience's auditory experience to explore audiology, and psychoacoustical knowledge. Recent major solo exhibitions and performances include Synthetic Statistics, Porta 33, Funchal, Portugal (2019); Synopsis / Seriation, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA (2018); Halluzination, Perspektive, Synthese, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Synopsis, Tramway, Glasgow (both 2017); FAVN, Alte Oper Frankfurt; Formulations, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main (both 2016); Formulations, Culturgest, Porto; A Script for Machine Synthesis, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and at the Maison de la Radio, Paris; and those at Künstlerhaus Graz, and Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (all 2015); Sadie Coles HQ, London; Galerie Neu / MD72, Berlin; documenta 13, Kassel; and Nouveau Festival, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (all 2012). Hecker has an extensive discography, including Synopsis Seriation (Editions Mego, Vienna, 2021); Statistique Synthétique (GRM Portraits, Paris, 2020); Inspection II (Editions Mego, Vienna & Urbanomic Falmouth, UK, 2019); A Script for Machine Synthesis (Editions Mego, Vienna, 2017); Articulação Sintetico (Editions Mego, Vienna, 2017); and Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera (Pan, Berlin, 2015). 

Credit 

Resynthesizers is made possible by lead funding from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Generous support is provided by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Michael Asher Foundation, the Wilhelm Family Foundation, the University of Edinburgh, the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the Kebok Foundation, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and the County of Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture. Additional support is provided by Digital View, Inc., Symrise AG, and the Roy and Edna Disney/ CalArts Theater (REDCAT).