la rada, Locarno

Migrating to the Italian part of Switzerland, OTO SOUND MUSEUM presents the show SOUNDATA inviting the artists Axel Crettenand, Mayar El Bakry and Joanna Selinger at la rada (Locarno, CH). SOUNDATA is conceived to open up a space for reflection between different disciplinary areas including sound and image, sound and technology, and also to shake up an old dichotomy involving humans and machines. It focuses on the researches initiated by Crettenand, El Bakry and Selinger on the processing and interpretation of data related to certain existing conditions or environmental frame. Through different approaches, the artists developed artistic displays and technological strategies to translate specific information into sound, creating new paths of listening and landscapes of meaning.

Chaotic arrangement for 66 voices (2021) by Axel Crettenand is an installation designed to translate the chaotic behavior of heat in a fluid into a choir of voices. It consists of an apparatus composed of a tank of warmed water monitored by thermometers, a software and a sound system. Data are collected through twelve thermometers spread in the volume of water and sent to a program specifically designed to translate the temperature information into MIDI notes in real time, which are ultimately synthesized into human voices. Through these anthropomorphic sounds, previously recorded and orchestrated by the random behavior of heat, the invisibility of chaos manifests itself in an ephemeral and unpredictable chorus. The sound of Chaotic arrangement for 66 voices traduces a scientific methodology in an artistic practice capable of revealing a spiritual dimension that plays with boundaries between visible and invisible, absence and presence, natural and technological elements.
Experimenting among the different possibilities of visualization of natural phenomena, Mayar El Bakry and Joanna Selinger have focused their research in the representation of natural events through unconventional methods able to return the data in an aesthetic and sound form of great impact. After an initial phase of orientation, they chose to devote their efforts toward studying the phenomenon of tsunamis starting with some of the major events of the last two decades: the tsunamis of the coast of Indonesia (2004), the coast of Samoa (2009), near Tohaku, Japan (2009), and the coast of Chile (2015). The result of this path is the audiovisual installation wave/forms (2016), elaborated on the basis of seismic data from IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) and developed with the help of the software "Sonifyer" that allowed to translate seismographic data into audible frequencies. This sound track is accompanied by a dynamic visualization obtained through the use of an audio-reactive script. By showing the epicenter of the tsunamis, the image reveals the behavior of the audio waves that encounter the profile of the continents of a hidden geography, but also with the real boundaries of the room in which the work is presented.

The data come to life, shape and sound, take possession of the exhibition space migrating in the perception of the visitor, who is invited to re-evaluate and rediscover the fascination and vertigo of the data hidden in everything that surrounds us, in every law that regulates human life on our planet.

The exhibition is curated by Zaira Oram [Francesca Ceccherini, Eleonora Stassi]


Axel Crettenand lives and works between Switzerland and Italy. His practice takes the form of installations, sounds, texts, videos and images. A central theme of his work is the observation and representation of the invisible forces that give shape to the material world. He is specifically interested in exploring and producing intersections between ritual and scientific practices and experimenting with transdisciplinary approaches. Seeking collaborations with authors and professionals from  other fields of research, he generates contaminations between different perspectives and hybridations within the processes of proof making in order to imagine alternative ways of reading and understanding reality. In recent years he started a new research focused on the narratives of the collapse of civilization.

Mayar El Bakry is a Swiss-Egyptian graphic designer and researcher based in Zurich. She works in and around the peripheries of design, merging diverse practices in her work. Currently, she’s focusing on food and cooking as a means to create spaces of discourses, exchange and dialogue and communal reflection. Within her research, she emphasizes the importance of cross-cultural exchange, cross-disciplinary collaboration, decolonial and intersectional feminist pedagogies. In her two-part project “Food for Radical Thought” she is investigating the kitchen as a creative space and a place for communing and resistance. The research draws on the premise that communal cooking and eating can operate as an interface to facilitate dialogue and bridge non-invasive discussions around difficult topic such as power, privilege, racism, white supremacy, and discrimination. She understands cooking and eating together as practices of making and reclaiming space for marginalized voices. In her research she specifically looks at decolonial practices focusing on making and reclaiming space through/with and by food and cooking while applying these learnings in a self-reflective dialogue with her own(design) practice. Next to her studies and research, she coordinates the Swiss Design Network and co-curates “Educating Otherwise” a continued education program at the FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Basel focusing on intersectional feminist pedagogies within design.

Joanna Selinger, born in Basel in 1992, devotes herself to art at a young age. After her compulsory schooling in Allschwil, she attended the Leonhard Gymnasium in Basel at the age of seventeen, majoring in visual arts. In 2014, she was admitted to the Basel School of Art and Design. Among many projects during her education, she created the installation Wave Forms* in collaboration with Mayar El Bakry. In September 2017, she successfully completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Communication. Since 2018, Joanna Selinger has increasingly dedicated herself to projects in independent work; in addition to music video clips, short films, vinyl covers, photographs, logos, poster and flyer designs and textile design, she was thus able to further her education in various areas. In 2019, she was also able to gain experience as a freelance graphic designer in the area of editorial and corporate design at Vitra International AG. She is currently still working on many different projects.

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