Annika Larsson - Strange Powers


Complex Systems are highly sensitive to fluctuations. This leads both to hope and a threat: “hope, since even small fluctuations may grow and change the overall structure. As a result, individual activity is not doomed to insignificance. On the other hand, this is also a threat, since in our universe the security of stable, permanent rules seems gone forever. /Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, Order Out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature

Microevents rumble through microinhabitations. Their sensory effects barely break the surface of human perception. / Elizabeth A. Povinelli

The exhibition – STRANGE POWERS - explores the highly sensitive nature of complex systems. Larsson brings together a series of works that through poetic, sonic and filmic interventions embrace the powers of small and unruly forces, asking how they can participate in rethinking the politics of space, time, matter and the unknown. Throughout the exhibition, the colour scheme of red and blue make subtle nods to the theoretical framework of the exhibition and its thematic. The red-foiled windows recall the hues of skies affected by air pollution or the poisonous atmospheres caused by wildfires. Copper phthalocyanine is a blue dye found in many household items, but the raw material can also fill a critical need in the quest for a quantum computer as a magnetic quantum metamaterial.

Strange Powers - Prologue is an audio-visual montage that serves as a prelude to a new film-project by Larsson which is circling around quantum computing’s attempts to tame its strange nature, while still exploiting it. By following the complex entanglements of quantum computing technology - from material extraction, toxic tailings and environmental exhaustion - the video builds up a non-linear story full of multiple connections, meanings, and pathways. Expanding the audio-visual montage, the exhibition also presents object, assemblages, photo-montages and drawings from the research for the work.

Playing with aspects of quantum phenomena such as superposition (of being at two places at the same time), entanglement and interference, Strange Powers - Prologue also extends into the room where it is accompanied by the works Theremins & Drums and Fuzzy Speakers. Similar to the "canary in the coal mine”, or other sentinel species and detecting machines, the two aforementioned works are fragile systems with sensors beyond the human. This gives them both the ability to detect potential dangers, as well as to show us the interconnection between currents, fields, bodies and matter.

The sound installation Theremins & Drums consists of three room sized theremins and an arrangement of interconnected sounding and vibrating metal drums. Invented initially as a gas detector by Leon Theremin around 1917, the theremin was one of the first instruments that produced sounds entirely electronically. Making use of the body’s interference with the electromagnetic field in proximity to the antennas, the instrument is capable of picking up weak, inaudible signals generated by movement from the body and amplifying them so that it can be played as a hearable sound.

In the work Fuzzy Speakers, recordings of bird chirps are played through a thin, fuzzy, copper coil, that similar to a conventional loudspeaker converts electrical energy into sound energy by interacting with a magnet and a membrane. In contrast to a conventional speaker, it does not produce an exact sound of the recording but invites interference to become part of the hearable sound.

Annika Larsson & Marti Manen in conversation at Andrehn-schiptjenko, 18 Nov 2023 // Annika Larsson & Frank Koenen, Amplification of Theremins & Drums //