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SoftMachine / A Natural History of Networks

SoftMachine / A Natural History of Networks by our alumnus Ralf Baecker is an electrochemical algorithmic performance and installation that explores an alternative computational and technological material regime. At its core, a custom-built electrochemical experimental apparatus (SoftMachine) creates a dynamic fluidic micro-cosm that performs a continuous becoming of form, structure, and material narrations. 

The performer is manipulating and modulating galinstan, a liquid metal alloy composed of gallium, indium, and tin immersed in a solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This wetware is stimulated by applying alternating electrical pulses through a set of cathodes and anodes. The evolving plexus of liquid metal creates distinctive electrochemical milieus (resistances/currents) between the electrodes. By measuring and analyzing the milieus, a (un)control process establishes that allows the network to react to its input in a closed feedback loop. Models and methods of self-organization and adaptation are introduced into the system to enable an autonomous agency resulting in a strange dialog with its performer. SoftMachine is an analog/digital hybrid to speculate about a heterogeneous technological culture. The material performance is captured by multiple cameras composed and displayed in real-time on a projection screen. The visuals are accompanied by a sonic layer taken directly from the fluid, a melange of drifting frequencies, pulses, patterns, and noise.

Part of Vorspiel/ CTM & transmediale 2021


When? Where?

January 29th, 2021 (digital premiere)

STATE Studio's Instagram Live

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