installationmicrophones, headphones, MaxMSP, posters
The Bureau for Hyper Alienation Cairo (BHAC) is an Egyptian biohacking* collective, founded in 2004. Their modifications and actions often stand within a politically activist context and are informed by a posthumanist worldview. In an interview with the french daily newspaper Le Monde, published in 2007 they stated: „We think of alienation as something contingent, that cannot be overcome by some vision of nature. Hyper alienation means to think of this positively, even amplify it to allow us to go way beyond the limits of our scope. Thats why we modify ourselves“. Between 2008 and 2010, BHAC developed the Augmented Apparatus, based on surveillance technology by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) that was leaked in the end of the 1990s. The Augmented Apparatus is a modification of ones eardrums, that allows for an independent control of their respective tension via pressure sensors on the temples. This results in a controllable and immensely increased sensibility and scope of ones auditory perception. Psychoacoustically this furthermore affects ones perceived listening position in space, which is directly coupled to the eardrums tension. In manipulating it, it is as if one could independently from another beam ones ears through space. Moreover, the Augmented Apparatus can record anything listened to onto an implanted chip. It was used in 2011 during the protests on Tahrir square in Cairo to locate approaching police and military units.
* Biohacking is the modification of the human body through cybernetic devices.
Prototyp: Augmented Apparatus is a listening station, comprising one pair of hearing protection headphones and four pairs of normal headphones. Three of the normal ones are connected to microphones, one per channel (LR), placed in different spots in the exhibition space. The distance between these microphones gradually increases with each pair, so that different and increasingly alienating sonic perspectives on the exhibition space can be obtained. Two field recordings, done in the area surrounding the exhibition space are audible on the left and right channel of the fourth pair of headphones, faking an additional pair of microphones outside. The setup is marked on a map and accompanied by a written introduction to the history of the Bureau for Hyper Alienation Cairo (BHAC) and their invention of the Augmented Apparatus (text above). By framing the installation through this fictive narrative – as a prototype for this kind of modification – we hope to enable a different and potentially politicized mode of aural perception.
Prototyp: Augmented Apparatus is part of Listening Prostheses / Kammermusik, originally developed for Klangraum-Festival 2017 at Kunstraum34 in Stuttgart. It has also been shown at Stromraum Stuttgart later that year.
Excerpts from the sounds of the respective headphones at the exhibition at Stromraum Stuttgart. Headphones 3 comprises two signals from microphones within the exhibition space, headphones 5 two field recordings as described above.