Sensory Threshold LAB 2021, OHRIVERSUM

– A maze of sound reveals itself to me. –

During Sensory Threshold LAB 2021, OHRIVERSUM at De Fabriek Eindhoven, the participants explored the world of sound. Especially these sounds we cannot hear because of the shape of our ear.

‘As a particle of the atmosphere is never lost, so sound is never lost. A strain of music or a simple tone will vibrate in the air forever and ever, decreasing according to a fixed ratio. The diffusion of the agitation extends in all directions, like the waves in a pool, but the ear is unable to detect it beyond a certain point. It is well known that some individuals can distinguish sounds which to others under precisely similar circumstances are wholly lost. Thus the fault is not in the sound itself, but in our organ of hearing, and a tone once in existence is always in existence.’
Florence McLandburgh, The Automaton Ear 1876

I am walking on the beach. The wind swirls around my body. The waves wash the shore, crashing onto the land in an endless phasing repetition, creating an oscillating swell of noise. I encounter a sea shell. I lift it up to put it towards my ear. And a maze of sound reveals itself to me.

This is where we placed the starting point of our project. It is clear that we live immersed in a world of sounds. However, most of the sounds perceivable, are being filtered by the shape of our ear, which is optimized to perceive frequencies of human voice. These sounds, often referred to as noise and often regarded as superfluous clutter is what caught our attention while listening into the sea shell.

With this project we wanted to include ourselves deeply within this world, which extends beyond our daily experience. And thus we began our intuitive research for the relations between the ear, its form, and the resulting sound experience. Eventually, all human ears are build using the same blueprint. Nevertheless, every ear is uniquely shaped like a fingerprint and thus influences our subjective acoustic experience of the world. One could say, that listening beings all together live in their individual sonic galaxies and therefore the entirety of ears establish a spatial constellation which we call the Ohriversum (German ‘Ear-verse’).


Location De Fabriek Eindhoven/ The Netherlands:
Katherina Heil (DE), Alexander Heil (DE), Rik Möhlmann (NL), Sarah Rose Guitian Nederlof (ES/NL), Farzané Nouri (IR), Kim David Bots (NL), Gijsje Heemskerk (NL)