Sunday, 7 October 2012

electromagnetic microcosm @ klangstaetten | stadtklaenge - Braunschweig

Franz Anton Mesmer called it animal magnetism; Charles von Reichenbach called it odyle. To Henri Bergson it was the elan vital, the "vital force;" while to Hans Driesch it was the entelechy . Sigmund Freud observed its functioning in human emotions and termed it libido. William MacDougall, the great British - American psychologist of a generation ago, labeled it hormic energy. Dozens, if not hundreds, of lesser - known scientists have recognized its presence and have given it a name to characterize its special properties. Among the 20th-century proponents of the concept are, for example, Doctors Charles Littlefield and his vital magnetism and George Starr White and his cosmo-electric energy . Mechanistic science in the 17th through 19th centuries embraced many of its essential qualities in the concept of the ether, while mystical human beings have embraced other essential qualities of it in the concept of god. Orgone energy is Wilhelm Reich's name for the substratum from which all nature is created. The best definition this author can provide for it is this: Orgone energy is the creative force in nature.”
Charles R. Kelley

Wilhelm Reich's theory of orgone energy and his related psychoanalytic practice made him a controversial figure during his lifetime. Particularly his theories about human sexuality and his unusual methods of therapy (such as the Orgone Accumulator) made him a target for attack by conservatives in 1930s and 1940s America. Drawing on Freud's “libido”, orgone energy took the function of the human orgasm to be a primary energetic force of life. Though his books were burned and he was imprisoned at the end of life, his theories were given new prominence with writers such as William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, later being crowned the father of the sexual revolution and an important figure in the Free Love/Sex-Positive movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Today, many issues of sexuality remain largely taboo in mainstream culture and where Reich's theories clashed with scientific proof and mainstream medicinal practice, there remain many fascinating aspects to his thought. For the exhibition, “Klangstaetten, stadtklänge – Zwischen Puff und Kloster” the work “electromagnetic microcosm” offers itself as a reinterpretation of this mysterious “life energy”. The historic red-light district of Braunschweig is for some perhaps an unrefined area of the city, but its mere existence is a geographical reminder of basic human sexuality. Though Reich was explicit that Orgone Energy was not linked to electromagnetism, there appears currently to be no other methods of measuring or detecting a possible “life energy”. There are however, many various theories concerning electromagnetic fields which throw particularly intriguing questions on how they effect human consciousness.

Many believe electromagnetic fields have adverse effects on the human body and brain and even extensive research by the World Health Organisation has been unsuccessful in either confirming or refuting the risk of EMFs on human health. The internal or endogenous electromagnetic field of the human brain, made up of approximately 100 billion electrical neurones, has been speculated to be susceptible to influences of external electromagnetic fields. Extremely Low Frequency waves (ELF), particularly those under 20Hz are considered to be of particular significance. Delta (up to 4Hz), Theta (4-8Hz) and Alpha (8-13Hz) waves are known in the brain to be present in states such as slow-wave sleep, drowsiness or arousal and states of coma respectively. The effect of externally produced ELFs on our brains acting on our health or behaviour may sound like the warnings of paranoiacs or conspiracy theories but it remains a question which modern scientific research cannot yet conclusively answer.

The work “electromagnetic microcosm” is therefore an experiment and a gesture, making some of the electromagnetic fields of our immediate surroundings visible and audible. The postulated link between the “life force” and electromagnetic fields is of an experimental nature, serving as a reminder of the unknown in scientific discourse, as a story which is constantly being re-written.

At Allgemeiner Konsumverein

As part of klangstaetten | stadtklaenge -
›Zwischen Puff und Kloster‹
Internationale Klangkunst in Braunschweig
3. bis 21. Oktober 2012
Curated by Sam Auinger, initiated & organised by Dr. Anne Mueller von der Haegen