Das Numen

The wind as a decisive spatial element in an exhibition in which the visitor can become aware of a silent force of nature that surrounds us almost constantly but is still almost invisible.

The installation Meatus (lat. path) by the Berlin-based artist collective Das Numen combines a locally well-defined indoor space with an ephemeral element resulting from a subtle inclusion of the outside world. Not all elements of the artwork can be perceived visually. The aesthetically pleasing structure of the installation attracts the visitor as the first eye-catcher into the room. Recalling an abstract organ, the installation already promises a link beyond what is visible via its optical attributes. Six labial pipes and a tongue whistle are used to produce sounds that reach into the room; moving air currents fulfill the room and generate a Presence transcending the physical construction.

The striking design of stainless steel bodies, rubber hoses and cables looks like a hybrid of engine and religious instrumental structure. With their air-indexed sounds, the pipes, which are between 4.20 and 4.80 meters long and horizontally suspended in the space, create a recreation of a natural force that ranges from silence to deafening lawns, or gentle caresses to brutal destruction.

These pipes do in fact not play a composed piece of music or reproduce an algorithmically generated sequence of tones, instead the tones are directly related to moving air (wind) – and are free of human intention. Twenty weather stations, collecting and processing weather data live at various locations, are used by Das Numen to monitor wind speeds, transfer them into the exhibition and translate them into stimuli using special software. The rushing of the wind passing trees, the majestic lawn of a storm, is now perceptible detached from its point of origin manifesting itself as a spatial experience. A duality of places in direct communication with each other creates a transcendent moment.

The impressive pipes are controlled by valves allowing previously compressed air to flow through the cavities, the air column inside begins to vibrate and at the labium or tongue to transform itself into an audible sound. In an organ-like construction, the energy flow of compressed air is called wind and refers directly to its natural relatives. Winds as an elusive entity become a sculptural force and the generated sounds a reference of space.

In his static, bound context, the visitor simultaneously experiences measurement data from places not only far away from himself, rather from various places on earth that occur simultaneously. This creates an aesthetic and philosophical experience of one’s own localization and relativity that extends beyond human dimensionality. The surrounding space becomes a resonant sphere of experience as well as the catalyst for sounds which only become perceptible through it.

Scientific data, which are recorded, processed and stored in indescribable quantities at any time, are also given a physical form and an acoustic expression with Meatus. There is an allegorical moment on the connections between climate and life. Atmosphere influences resonance space, resonance space influences sound, sound influences air. No air, no wind, no sound, no climate, and no life unless there is wind.  All of them are in cyclical processes and in direct connection.

The artists collaborate with specialists and scientists whose collaboration condenses the complex processes – often reminiscent of futuristic experiments -, into works of art that are alienated from their original content and placed in a context where they can be experienced and enable discourses far removed from scientific analysis.

The installation Meatus has been presented first in 2017 at Dittrich & Schlechtriem Gallery in Berlin.

Das Numen are Julian Charrière, Andreas Greiner, Markus Hoffmann and Felix Kiessling. The four artists work together both alone and temporarily as Das Numen. With their work, the collective connects issues of environment, society, nature and the correlative processes between them.