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Echoes – a voice from uncharted waters

06.05.2021 to 11.06.2021 - MQ Main Courtyard

Echoes – a voice from uncharted waters


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Previous dates

fri, 11.06.2021
thu, 10.06.2021
wed, 09.06.2021
tue, 08.06.2021

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On display until June 11 at MQ Main Courtyard,
interactive sound & light 16:00 - 22:00h: Once a certain boundary is overstepped the whale art installation responds instantly. The lighting is gradually dimmed and the sounds become quieter and finally disappear completely, drawing attention to the destruction of pristine, natural ocean soundscapes with whales and other marine life.


From May 6 to June 11, the art installation “Echoes - a voice from uncharted waters” by the artist Mathias Gmachl is on show in the Main Courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier Wien, in coproduction with the LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura and Quartier des Spectacles Partnership (Montreal, Canada).

Now is the time to act again and preserve it for future generations. It is not only a matter of saving endangered species such as the whale, but about environmental pollution in general, the climate crisis, and noise pollution—a huge source of strain for countless species. On the one hand, the project therefore seeks a ‘boundlessness’ that crosses global borders and allows completely new ways of thinking to develop. Yet at the same, restrictions are needed to ensure the survival of all forms of life.

For the work “Echoes—a voice from uncharted waters”, Mathias Gmachl focused specifically on the ocean habitat. The whale stands for all life on earth that is not human and demands some of our public space for itself. It is time to reacquaint people with the sound of the submarine world. Sound travels in water five times faster than on the surface and covers much greater distances. “Noise pollution” in the oceans is therefore an ever-growing problem. The installation features recordings by earlier sound researchers. These were made in remote and undisturbed locations and is contrasted with the noise of industrial ports and container ships. To make people aware of “noise pollution,” an imaginary circle surrounds the sculpture. This is a symbolic representation of the distance it is necessary to maintain in order not to endanger the whale. This line communicates a boundary, a distance our activities must maintain in order not to disturb the whale‘s space.
Once the boundary is overstepped the whale responds instantly: the lighting is gradually dimmed and the sounds become quieter and finally disappear completely, drawing attention to the destruction of pristine, natural ocean soundscapes with whales and other marine life.

The whale installation is made of steel, weighs five tons and is 17 meters long. In order to make its appearance as realistic as possible, it was planned and developed with marine biologists over a period of 12 months. The lines, for example, were inspired by the abdominal folds typical of whales. The colors were selected to represent the whale together with all other sea creatures.

Following its presentation at the MuseumsQuartier, “Echoes—a voice from uncharted waters” can be seen from June 29 to October 12 in Lugano and then in winter in Montreal.

Mathias Gmachl: Echoes – a voice from uncharted waters, 2021
Steel, Interactive LIDAR, Sound & Lighting System
17,5 x 5,7m x 5,5m
The work was created within the framework of an international artist commission and is a co-production of MuseumsQuartier Wien, Quartier des Spectacles Montrèal and LAC Arte e Cultura Lugano.

Special thanks to:
Jana Winderen, Roosa Tulvio, James Fox, Jon Wozencroft, Chris Watson, James Solly, Neil Fry.

MuseumsQuartier Wien:
Curator: Klaus Krobath
Project management: Viktoria Schödl

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