Smells like Neon Lights, Tastes like Pigmented Speakers

Master's Project Sound Studies and Sonic Arts, Berlin University of the Arts


Smells like Neon Lights, Tastes like Pigmented Speakers is an 18.1 audio installation that explores the possibilities of Machine Listening as a creative tool. The data gathered thorugh the algorithms described before serve as inspiration for a multichannel composition that explores the spatial cues that are recurrent in the Singuhr audio documentations. Instead of recreating the spaces where such installations happened, or instead of imitating the characteristics of the sounds reproduced, Smells like Neon Lights explores the methods that artists used to engage sonically with particular architectural spaces.

“Jede Schwarzlicht-Röhre riecht nach Kubisch und jeder pigmentierte Lautspreche schmeckt nach Julius“

Volker Straebel, 2010

Smells like Neon Lights, Tastes like Pigmented Speakers is a generative sound installation reflecting on the perceptual capabilities of technology and their influence in our artistic experience. The work examines a database of sound installation recordings through the use of Machine Listening and Artificial Intelligence algorithms creating a collaborative installation in dialogue with technology.

The sonic material is presented in two levels: an immersive sound environment, that explores the modulations of our spatial perception, and a parallel generative composition, experienced via headphones, that uses Machine Learning algorithms to match the sounds captured in the room with samples of a database of sound installation art documentations. The audience is confronted with a mediated experience where sonic material coexists with preconceived and hidden spaces, generating a new mixed or augmented reality that can never be grasped as a whole.

The sonic database is taken from an archive of sound art installation documentations of the Singuhr Gallery exhibitions from 1996 to 2014. Engaging with a database of recordings for documentation questions the practices of documentation and its significance in artistic tradition.

A conference paper for the Digital Libraries for Musicology 2021 as well as a conference presentation for the Sound of Sound Studies were published and can be found at cited as follows: