[ISEA2020] Artists Statement: Klaus Spiess & Lucie Streckera — Microbial Keywording

Artists Statement

We explore a hybrid language that not only processes formal symbols but also interacts with the oral microbes. This materiality of language takes on meaning against the background of the parallel decline in the diversity of microbiomes and languages.
In our performances we harvest oral microbes from the audience. Using a voice spectrogram, repetitively spoken phonemes drive pumps that add pheromones to the microbes for a time. For some replication cycles the microbes remain adapted to the individual phonemes, which ecologically favours some phonemes. When the visitors change alphabetical sequences they ecologize their oral sphere. In the webstream version we work with speech recognition and algorithms that use data from previous performances. We propose a ‘microbial language’, in which microbes and language protect each other, as a category between semantic, phonetic and ecological meaning.

Video: Microbial Keywording at Ars Electronica

  • Klaus Spiess directs the inter-disciplinary Arts and Science program and chairs the LASER Art&Science talks at the Medical University Vienna, Austria, where he is Associate Professor. Together with Lucie Strecker who is a fellow of the Berlin University of the Arts, Germany, and holds a senior postdoc position at the Art & Science department of the University of Applied Arts Vienna they develop transdisciplinary performances / installations on the subject of biopolitics. They were performing at Budascoop Kortrijk; Tanzquartier Vienna; Belvedere/21er Haus, Vienna; Bemis Center of Contemporary Art, Omaha; Click Festival, Helsingør; ISEA, Muffatwerk Munich, Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin among others. Their installations have been shown at venues such as the Beall Center for Art + Technology, Irvine, the Onassis Cultural Center, Athens, and at the Prix Ars Electronica Festival. They have published their work in numerous articles in Leonardo, The Journal of Performance Research and The Lancet among others.