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Biomedicine in museums

Sound art work 'Labyrinthitis' by Jacob Kirkegaard, Medical Museion, Sunday 2 September

By August 18, 2007No Comments

In connection with the conference ‘Art and Biomedicine: Beyond the Body’ held Monday 3 September, Medical Museion has commissioned sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard to create a new work.

Jacob Kirkegaard has turned his listening ear inwards – to his own ear. By using specially developed listening equipment, he has captured the microactivity which the hair cells of the ear send out.

LABYRINTHITIS consists entirely of sounds generated in Jacob Kirkegaard’s own ears. Deep inside the cochlea there are thousands of microscopic hair cells functioning as sensory receptors. When sound enters the ear, they begin to vibrate in the watery liquid surrounding them, like underwater piano strings.

Thus, the hearing organ does not only receive sound. It also generates sound, just like an acoustic instrument. Some of the hair cells in the cochlea can change their shape to such an extent that they are enabled to move the basilar membrane and produce sound themselves.

These faint tones resemble the sound of a tinnitus – and they can be recorded with a microphone in the ear canal.

Jacob Kirkegaard employs the 1787 auditorium of Medical Museion as well as the audience for his composition: His listeners become part of an interactive concert as their own auditory organs respond to the tones played out into the auditorium. The room, at the same time, turns into one big resonant labyrinth of sound.

Jacob Kirkegaard LABYRINTHITIS

  • Disorientation (Preludium)
  • Vertigo (Canon)
  • Nausea (Finale)

played on The Spiral Organ will be performed in Medical Museion, Bredgade 62, Copenhagen on Sunday 2 September 2007, at 6pm, 8pm and 10pm. Entrance is free, but seat reservations are necessary. Please write to, indicating which of the three performances you prefer to attend.

For background information, please see

(The news about Jacob’s performance have been registered by, among others, Networked Music Review,

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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