Songlines are invisible pathways crossing all over the Australian continent, used to navigate distances of sometimes hundreds of kilometers by means of song. While moving, songs sung in certain sequence describe locations of (former) landmarks or natural phenomena, providing bearing to the singing traveler.

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“Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the totemic being who wandered over the continent, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path – birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes – and so singing the world into existence.” Bruce Chatwin

This site-specific installation consists of pairs of speaker drivers installed opposite of each other. Each pair bridges a dimension of the space and quietly emits an electronic sine tone that closely corresponds to a prominent acoustical resonance caused by the distance the pair traverses. Matching the physical sizes of the space the static tones are naturally amplified by the architecture and so appear to be without clear directionality or shape. A constantly changing interval of two tones can be heard.


Recordings of two voices occasionally tune with the tones, causing acoustic ripples and melodic resonances to appear. At moments of such tunings, the ‘dead’ electronic sine tones instantly obtain body and locality, and can be traced back moving across the invisibly connecting lines between the speakers mounted in the space.

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Songlines was first exhibited at the Institute for Provocation in Beijing, China. Thank you Max Gerthel and Shuyu Chen.

Voice: Maria Antonia Company Morell