by Felix Hess

For “Chochin” (pronounced “tsjootsjin”), the Japanese term for traditional lanterns, seven large Japanese Chinese lanterns were hung in the Tschumi Pavilion. These Chinese lanterns from rice paper and bamboo were illuminated by incandescent lamps that were connected to air pressure-controlled dimmers. The air pressure-sensors were cheap microphones that had been selected for sensitivity to “infrasound”. The air pressure fluctuations around the pavilion, due to wind gusts and banging traffic, let the filaments in the bulbs light up fluctuating, sometimes dreamy calm and sometimes strong flickering. This resulted in a constantly changing play of light that made visible what would be otherwise not perceptible for us.

The Japanese lanterns come from a special shop in Tokyo, but are not, as usual bright red painted with black characters and undyed white strips between the black and red. Painted they are very beautiful and in use in temples and traditional restaurants. Unpainted, as in the Tschumi-Pavilion, you don’t see them¬† in Japan, but they are all the more unique.

Felix Hess (1941) occupies a unique position in between science and art. He studied mathematics and physics in Groningen and did research on the movement of returning boomerangs. Then, in Australia, he was enchanted by the group concerts of frogs. Back in the Netherlands, he made his electronic “sound creatures” as a scientific model for the group behavior of frogs and some insects. However, this was picked up in the art world as “sound art”. He so became unintentionally an artist. His research on ambient sound, silence and sensitivity reinforced his interest in everyday but unobserved phenomena around us as infrasound, air pressure and subtle air currents. Everything is always on the move. His work has resulted in wonderful, poetic installations. The projects that Felix Hess in 1980 ‘s and 90 ‘s realized are exhibited all over the world.¬† Felix Hess, although examines the physical world, but focuses our attention especially on sensitivity itself.