Invitation to preview

Re-Play: 21 ‘vanished’ works of net art
Timo Kahlen’s interactive film & interactive sound

February 1 - July 31, 2023

From 2005 to 2020, sound sculptor and media artist Timo Kahlen (born 1966, 
based in Berlin) published 21 works of net art: interactive, thrillingly 
‘tangible’ film and sound projections on the world wide web. All of these 21 
works have vanished, have become muted and blind, invisible and inaudible with 
the end of browser support for Flash on January 1, 2021.

They have now been revived: recoded and made visible, audible and tangible once 
again — with some glitches and drop-outs, and a bit of sonic tumult and 
difference to the originals… Refurbished archaeological objects of interactive 
media art — if you will — restored for your benefit.

All of the interactive film & sound projections are generated absolutely live: 
reacting to the position, the direction and/or speed of your cursor — hovering 
above, clicking at or pausing on the touch-sensitive, tangible visual surface— 
as you explore and trigger invisible, complex and multiple layers of sound, 
noise and vibration embedded in the objects — integrating intentional 
interaction and aspects of chance, as you become part of the work.

Experience the works - always live and always different, in real time - with 
your mouse cursor, at your own pace and with your own timing. Please, turn on 
your speakers — or put on your headphones. (Sound Drift, 2005 in 
collaboration with Ian Andrews) (Audio Dust, 2011) (in medias res, 2020) (source (postfactual), 2017) (Numbers, 2011 or 2013) (YesNo, 2011; re-released 2016) (Drama, 2011) (The Essence of Art, 2016) (migrtaion,2016) (Diodenzwitschern, 2006) (Rohschnitt, 2016) (Signal-To-Noise, 2011) (insignificant, 2020) (articulate, 2018) (unstable, 2017) (Undo/Delete, 2011) (From Scratch, 2011) (ping tschä tschä, 2005) (Carpe Diem, 2011) (UR, 2006) (error, 2020)

All works documented here collection and courtesy of ZKM I Karlsruhe, Cornell 
University, Akademie der Künste Berlin, Ruine der Künste Berlin, and the 
artist. Revived with Sound Drift (2005) created in collaboration 
with Sydney-based artist Ian Andrews. © Timo Kahlen/ VG Bild-Kunst 2005 - 2023.

For your interest: A documentary video of Kahlen‘s works of Net Art 2005 - 2020 
(24:24 min, stereo) is available at


Sound Drift, 2005
Generative sound and film projection in collaboration
with Ian Andrews, Sydney

‘Sound Drift’ (2005) by Timo Kahlen (Berlin) and Ian Andrews (Sydney) allows 
the viewer to meander through
a series of exhibition spaces that contain floating, drifting, interactive 
‘clouds’ filled with the pulsing, twittering,
hissing, dirty static noise of interfering radio waves. Each of the interactive 
‘clouds’ - when clicked at - leads to
one of the next rooms. Conceived as a site-specific work for the gallery space 
at the Ruine der Künste Berlin
- roughly re-modelled by Kahlen from recycled cardboard and photographed, then 
embedded with Andrews’
complex sound and graphic clusters in Sydney, and re-transferred to the 
exhibition space in Berlin, via internet
and modem - and simultaneously published online as a generative work of net 
art, ‘Sound Drift’ shows the
transparent volume of air of the assumingly ‘empty’ exhibition space to be 
already full of information, full of
data and sound. The interactive work is generated - always different and live - 
as the viewer‘s mouse cursor
navigates across, pauses or clicks at the responsive surface of the visual 

Architektur durchdringende Klangwolken
gurgelnder, zwitschernder, knirschender, singender Klang interferierender 

Audio Dust, 2011
Interactive film and
sound projection

The interactive film and sound projection ‘Audio Dust’ (2011) addresses the 
difficult technical process of
recording sounds. Dusty, scratchy, only partially decipherable noise and 
acoustic fragments directly linked to
the recording process have become entangled in the furry windshield of a 
microphone, have left multiple sonic
traces in its tentacles. Static and moving fragments of sound embedded in the 
object form humming, whirring,
buzzing and rustling microcosms that the viewer triggers by touching, hovering 
above or clicking on the soft,
furry surface with the mouse cursor. “Windjammer, poodle or deadcat: the 
windbreak made of long-haired fur,
which allows microphone recordings even in extreme wind conditions, has many 
names in the jargon of
sound engineers. Timo Kahlen takes the image of filtering noise as the starting 
point for his interactive sound
work. ‘Audio Dust’ makes audible all the ambient and background noise that a 
windbreak usually absorbs.
Our attention shifts from the microphone to the residues ofnoise caught in the 
thicket of the fur” (Julia Gerlach,
ZKM Karlsruhe 2012).

The soft, round fur object whirs, hums and crackles. As soon as the viewer’s 
mouse cursor touches the sounds
embedded in the interactive surface of the image projection, it creates a 
composition of seductively beautiful
incidental and disturbing noise: generated by the viewer at that moment, always 
live and always different,
depending on the position, speed and direction of the cursor’s movements, or 
intentional pauses, with which
the viewer chooses to interact with the object.

Installation view at Sound Art: Sound as a Medium of Art,
ZKM Karlsruhe 2012. Photo: Steffen Harms
© ZKM I Karlsruhe

In the reconstructed version on view in 2023, due to glitch, drop-outs and 
incompatibility, some elements of fine(r)
graphic detail in the center of the object have been lost - irrevocably.

in medias res, 2020
Interactive film and
sound projection

Digital warmth, emotion and closeness are deceptive. Right there, in the midst 
of everything that’s currently happening,
virtually ‘in medias res’, and yet at the verge, physically isolated and 
distant. Created in times of pandemic lockdown,
of home office and ‘social distancing‘. The interactive work of net art was 
generated live, as the viewer‘s own cursor explored
visual clusters of other cursors, paused or clicked at the ‘touch‘-sensitive 
surface of the visual projection embedding sound
and unexpected movement. Timo Kahlen‘s interactive sound / net art work in 
medias res (2020) was visible and audible
at during times of lockdown due to the 
spread of the Covid pandemic. In 2021 and 2022,
the work became invisible due to the end of browser support for Flash on 
January 1, 2021.

/source/ (postfactual), 2017
Interactive film and
sound projection

Change of values ? ‘/source/ (postfactual)’, 2017 invites the viewer to search 
for reliable sources, for valid ‘facts’ and
nodes of information on the Internet. A seemingly void, monochrome white 
surface is all it shows; and frustrates the viewer
with a mouse cursor, which is difficult to locate, to control and to direct, as 
isolated potential ‘facts’ pop up in interaction
with the cursor: appearing but distorted, head-over and uncomfortably remote, 
as if projected onto the reverse side
of the computer screen. The alternating objects are accompanied by outbursts of 
sound and bustle, only to be quenched
and extinguished shortly afterwards. The interactive work of net art is 
composed of multiple embedded layers of sound
woven into a touch-sensitive visual projection. It is generated by the viewer – 
live, and always different -, depending on
the relative position, movement and speed, on eventual pauses or on changes in 
direction of the mouse cursor, as
the viewer‘s attention meanders across the touch-sensitive visual projection. 
Search, roll over, pause or click at the
‘empty’ white surface of the computer display with the mouse cursor, to 
discover and discard potential facts in real-time.
Released on January 20, 2017 or later. According to rumors, however, the work 
was already visible and audible before.
This is alternatively true. Published on Digital America. Honorary mention at 
the prize question ‘What‘s the Net Listening To ?’
(Junge Akademie Berlin, Leopoldina and ZKM I Karlsruhe), 2017.

Numbers, 2011 or 2013
Interactive film
projection at

Thank God! At least, in the midst of all the financial crisis and accelerating 
digital change, it’s numbers
that we can rely on, numbers that will be safe and sound. The interactive work 
of net art ‘Numbers’ was created
in 2011, or possibly in 2013. In fact, numbers seem to lose their rigidity and 
integrity in this interactive work of net art,
as they twitch and dissolve when touched by the cursor.

YesNo, 2011
Interactive work
of ‘frozen’ net art at

Are we still compatible with the technological and political systems we live in 
? Or in need of a change ?
Yes. No. Maybe. Search, investigate, roll over and click at the seemingly 
indifferent, inactive, ‘frozen’
monochrome surface of the monitor with the mouse cursor to generate multiple 
layers of embedded
sound and text. A carefully designed, ‘stuck’ webpage. Reluctant and with no 
answers provided.

Drama, 2011
Interactive film loop

A virtual reanimation of an insect - lying on its back. A miniature ‘Drama’ 
(2011), an emotional visual metaphor:
the individual‘s struggle at the borderline of life and death, with various and 
chance-generated endings, triggered by
the viewers, as they play the interactive film loop again and again. The silent 
interactive film, approximately twelve seconds
long, is closely related to Kahlen’s kinetic sound sculptures ‘Tanz für zwei 
Fliegen’ (Dance for Two Flies, 2005) and
‘Tanz für Insekten’ (Dance for Insects, 2010): here, several insects - found 
dead (objets trouvés) - pulse, float and dance
on the membranes of loudspeakers.

The Essence of Art, 2016
Interactive film and sound projection

The essence of art is to make mistakes. Trust me, I‘m an artist. A conceptual 
and personal exploration of
the essence of art. Explore the handwritten text, touch and investigate objects 
with the cursor, click at, roll-over or pause
to generate your individual and interactive, live ‘reading’ of the work. Take 
your time. The interactive sound and film projection
‘The Essence of Art’ (2016) is generated from multiple layers of embedded sound 
and visual notations.

m i g r t a i o n, 2016
Interactive text and sound
projection at

‘m i g r t a i o n’ (2016) is an interactive text and sound projection 
the disrupted, broken melodic sound of a ‘merry-go-round’ music box - and the 
isolated letters of a short text,
that dissolves and replaces itself, generating new meaning, as the mouse cursor 
rolls over or clicks at the
hand-written, transitive letters. Roll over and/or click with the mouse cursor 
to generate the sound of displacement,
and to read between the lines. First published on Digital America.

Diodenzwitschern, 2006
Interactive proposal for site-specific sound installation,
Nominated for the German Sound Art Prize 2006,

‘Diodenzwitschern’ is Kahlen’s proposal for a permanent sound installation in 
public space: consisting of a site-specific
four channel audio composition with sculptural, ring-shaped speaker elements 
encircling the stems and branches of trees
in proximity to the Skulpturenmuseum in Marl. Intimate sounds, based on the 
utterances of a nightingale recorded directly
on site, permutate from speaker to speaker, from tree to tree. The song of the 
local nightingale - a bird known for its
amazing ability to imitate complex sounds of its immediate environment - has 
been dissected, reorganized and carefully
reshaped, creating a soundscape that seems synthetic and mechanic, yet 
strangely represents and refers to its origin
in nature. The proposal, presented to the jury of the German ‘Sound Art Prize 
2006’, is a generative, virtual model of
the installation. It‘s variable acoustic composition is generated - always live 
and differing - as the mouse cursor
moves across, pauses or clicks at the touch-sensitive surface of the 
consecutive visual projections. Originally
published at

Nachtigall (Luscinia magarh.): Unscheinbar braunes Gefieder. Gesang aus 
schmetternden, schluchzenden,
ziehenden Strophen, streng gegliedert

Rohschnitt, 2016
Interactive sound and film
projection at

‘Rohschnitt’ (Rough Cut, 2016) is a virtual and hybrid, rough cut cardboard 
model of an exhibition space filled with
an interactive, complex archive of sound, noise and vibration. The sounds 
embedded in the room represent sounds
recorded when constructing the model from scratch, from cardboard and paper, 
and when reworking the model and
sounds on the computer: raw, rough sounds of drawing, cutting, creasing, 
folding, ripping, copying, pasting and reediting;
acoustic fragments of an artist‘s ‘work in progress’. The online work was 
specifically created for the sound art exhibition
‘Hörschwelle’ at the project space of Deutscher Künstlerbund in Berlin. Base to 
the interactive work is the small-scale
cardboard model, approximately equivalent to the specific exhibition space and 
its sequence of rooms; photographed
and ‘filled’ with (analog and digital) acoustic and material debris, with the 
tools and sculptural studio work still in place.
‘Rohschnitt’ is a site-specific conceptual work of sound art, short-listed for 
the ‘Schloss-Post web residency #2’
at Schloss Solitude, Germany 2016; and first exhibited at ‘Hörschwelle’, 
Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin 2016.
The generative film projection embeds multiple layers of hidden, static and 
moving interfaces. Touch and explore
objects with the cursor, click at or pause to generate your individual 
composition of noise and beauty written into
the exhibition space.

Schneiden, falzen, kleben, reißen. Ein Raum und der Klang seiner Entstehung

Signal-To-Noise, 2011
Interactive film and sound
projection at

The interactive work ‘Signal-To-Noise’ (2011) relates to the history of 
recording media, to the Vinyl LP. An analog
object, covered with scratches, with dirt, and embedded fragments of sound is 
seen rotating in space. The work
emphasizes the unintentional mistake, the glitches, the deviation from the 
technical norm, in the difficult process
of recording and playing back acoustic signals. What can be heard, as the 
viewer generates multiple layers of sound
from invisible interfaces hidden beneath the flash projection of the scratched 
and ruptured rotating surface, is a grinding,
dirty, dusty static noise, which leaves little room for the desired acoustic 
signal itself. The unbalanced signal-to-noise-ratio
of what is desired and what is recorded, is the works main principle of design.

In the reconstructed version on view in 2023, three essential graphic layers in 
the center of the object have
been lost - irrevocably.

insignificant, 2020
Interactive text and sound
projection at

‘insignificant’ (2020) presents objects too small and too insignificant to be 
noticed. Yet all decisive.
Unexpected buzzing, humming, whirring, rising and dying layers of tangible 
sound and vibration are
generated as viewers touch the hand-written text with the cursor.

Articulate, 2018
Interactive text and
sound projection at

‘Articulate’ (2018) presents an uncensored dialogue. Pure sound. Enter the 
dialogue. Go play, and value your freedom
of speech. In fact, it’s quite difficult to be articulate. The work is 
generated as viewers move their mouse cursor, roll over,
pause or click at the sensitive surface of the hand-written letters on the 
screen, thereby activating multiple embedded
layers of generative fragments of sound. Meaningful. Unintelligible. Poetic.

Due to error, glitch and incompatibility, in the reconstructed version on view 
in 2023, the sounds generated
now seem to pile up, to loop and to get ‘out of control’ a bit too quickly.

unstable, 2017
Interactive film and
sound projection at

An exploration of ‘unstable’ media, in 2017. The viewer‘s cursor seems to lose 
control of the game that is being played.
No obvious rules seem to persist. The viewer does generate minimal visual marks 
and acoustic incidents, yet these seem to
avoid and flee the presence of the cursor on a blank and ‘void’ white monitor. 
The frustrating and interactive work of net art
is generated - always live - as the viewer‘s modified cursor moves across, 
pauses or clicks at the responsive surface of
the monochrome visual projection.

Undo/Delete, 2011
interactive net art

Create and save - or discard and delete ? In ‘Undo / Delete’ (2011), the 
viewer‘s interaction, once again, triggers but minimalistic,
short-lived visual marks and acoustic incidents on a white webpage: generating 
virtual objects that seem to flee and to avoid
the presence of the mouse cursor, popping up in the wrong places, and 
immediately vanishing thereafter, with a bustle of harsh
sounds - acoustic traces of an analog process of undoing and revising, of 
erasing, ripping and crumbling, of deleting and discarding
bits and pieces of information, of concepts and visions sketched down on paper, 
archived and hidden on the blank monitor page,
invisible to the eye.

The reconstructed version on view in 2023 differs significantly from the 
‘monochrome’ white, ‘blank’ original.

From Scratch, 2011
Interactive film
and sound projection

The artist once again walking and recording on thin ice: as an homage to the 
fragility and frailty of all life. The fragility
of a ruptured, frozen surface of water, its acoustic and sensual quality (and 
short-lived existence) has inspired a number
of the artist’s works (who, himself, was shipwrecked near the Galapagos islands 
in the Pacific in 1980): including
sound installations like ‘Breaking Ground’ (2008, in Orvieto, Italy), the 
photographic series of ‘Schmelze‘ (Melting, 2011),
the audio miniature ‘Bits & Pieces’ for Radius (Chicago, 2011) and the 
interactive film and sound projection ‘From Scratch’,
published at in 2011. In the interactive work 
of net art, viewers encounter splintering,
crunching, slushing, cascading sequences of sound and vibration as their own 
mouse cursor meanders across a ‘touch-
sensitive’ visual projection of a fragile, ruptured surface of thin ice.

Due to error, glitch, incompatibility and the fragility of the original file, 
in the reconstructed version on view in 2023,
the sounds and images generated have been chosen to be a variation of the 
original work.

ping tschä tschä, 2005
Interactive sound and
film projection at

In ‚ping tschä tschä‘ we hear birds chirping and singing, are immersed in the 
‘natural soundscape’ of the work
- until we slowly realize the setting to be strangely distorted, fragmented and 
manipulated, somehow mechanical
and remote. Kahlen’s early interactive film and sound projection ‘ping tschä 
tschä’ (2005) embeds scientific,
ornithological descriptions and digital, synthetic sounds closely imitating 
birds’ voices in the image of a wood.
Viewers generate their individual and live composition of ‘natural’ sound as 
they explore the image, move their
cursor across, hover or click at the visual projection. ‘ping tschae tschae’ 
was installed at the Ruine der Künste
Berlin, and simultaneously published online, in 2005. The work alludes to a 
process of a scientific and exact,
mimetic, yet strangely abstract and fragmentary acoustic re-creation of nature. 
The utterances of birds and
their descriptions have been of interest to the artist ever since his very 
first works of sound art in 1988.

zewidewit zizidäh - dü hüitt - trijet tret tret tret - ping tschä tschä - dschü 
- tschjak - tetui tic tic tic - hiiüp

Carpe Diem, 2011
Interactive sound and
film projection at

An image of vanitas, a ripe yellow fruit (a quince), showing the first signs of 
deterioration, decomposition
and mold, is at the base of the work ‘Carpe Diem’ (2011). The soft, fragile 
surface of the object embeds
and encloses particles of organic noise and vibration: activated by the viewer 
as he maneuvers the mouse
cursor across the resonant object. The soundscape and acoustic composition of 
the work is generated
- always different and live - at the pace chosen by the individual viewer: as 
the mouse rolls over, hesitates
and hovers above, or clicks at the responsive surface of the visual projection. 
The interactive work of net
art is closely related to ‘Emission’ (2009 - 2020), a series of digital 
photographs of a quince with first signs
of mold and minimal graphic inscriptions.

die Quitte rauscht und knistert eingebetteter Klang

UR, 2006
Interactive sound
and film projection at

In ‘UR’ (2006) surfaces and vessels become the containers for unwanted noise 
and ‘dirt’
generated by technological media and communication. Bits and pieces of 
grinding, creaking,
humming sounds and white noise create complex microcosms, generated by viewers 
they touch or click, hover and pause, approach or roll over the given visual 
containers with
their mouse cursor. The multi-part interactive film and sound projection is 
based on an
extensive archive of ‘Noise & Beauty’: of recordings of ephemeral, interfering 
radio waves
in between radio stations, of ‘audio dust’, of static and noise, which the 
artist has
been compiling since 1987 — until today.

/ error /, 2020
Interactive film and sound projection

Only for a small moment in time, at the end of the first pandemic year of 
Covid-19, in times of ‘home office’
and ‘social distancing’ , of sluggish screen work and accelerated 
digitalization, of video conferences, online
lectures and virtual meetings avoiding all personal contact or physical 
closeness, in times of temporary setups
and breakdowns, of server overload, of transmission errors and time delays, of 
broken personal links and
denied accesses to shared files, Timo Kahlen‘s interactive net art work ‘/ 
error /’ (2020) marked a critical reflection
of our current use of new ‘online’ media: focussing on the susceptibility to 
errors and to technological failure, and on
our personal isolation and loss of control. It was a subtle (and short-lived) 
generative work of art that could be seen
and heard and ‘touched’ only with the mouse cursor (our dominant tool in these 
times of remote contact) and was,
in fact: as frustrating and as difficult to grasp as reality itself.

The conceptual, time-specific work ‘error’ (2020) could be seen only for one 
day: on December 31, 2020 —
before the end of browser support for Flash on January 1, 2021 made it 
unreadable forever, invisible and inaudible
like all of Timo Kahlen’s other works of net art. Four weeks later, all works 
created by using the Flash program
had virtually disappeared from the web. An offline version of ‘/error/’ was 
presented to the ZKM Center for
Art and Media in Karlsruhe, but on the internet itself it left a blank space, 
an absence.

Not found
This should not happen. Error 404.

media archaeological artefacts
Objekte der Medienarchäologie

Timo Kahlen
Berlin 2023

© Timo Kahlen / VG Bild-Kunst 2023. All rights reserved.

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