Katrin Hochschuh and Adam Donovan: Curious Tautophone – Tensor Field Ontology

Katrin Hochschuh and Adam Donovan: Curious Tautophone – Tensor Field Ontology
12 April–4 May 2024

You are cordially invited to the opening of the exhibition Curious Tautophone – Tensor Field Ontology by Katrin Hochschuh and Adam Donovan, which will take place on Friday, 12 April 2024, at 7 p.m. at KiBela, space for art.


A field of light moving simultaneously with a beam of sound, both emanated from one source, a shiny metal tripod robot that is spinning a speaker around two axes. Like a swirl of sound and light the visitor is drawn into the piece with all his senses and finds himself enveloped in a transforming spatial sound sculpture. A moment of precious intimacy is created and a door between the subconsciousness of the visitor and the robotic machine is opened, both aurally and visually. The decidedly non-anthropomorphic robot is the source of this transcendent atmosphere and shows that the Curious Tautophone is as much an apparatus of art as it is a tool for music and an instrument for psychology and physics.

The name Tautophone derives from projective auditory tests developed by psychologists Skinner, Rosenzweig and Shakow that can be understood as a form of Auditory Rorschach Inkblot where a sequence of vowels was repeated in an attempt to trigger latent speech hidden in the listener’s psyche. The curious aspect of the name induces a sense of the Tautophone’s motivation to explore its surroundings and to learn. It reflects the human capability to feel attachment to inanimate objects as already demonstrated by psychologists Heider and Simmel in 1944 and speculates about the human desire to give birth to new forms of life as part of a subconscious reasoning surrounding mortality. Tensor fields expresses the mathematical representation of the visual environment creating a different kind of adapting and continually changing set of inkblots of light. Using the physical phenomena of directional sound as a medium of robotic expression, the unusual, even uncanny nature of hearing these auditory hallucinations opens the observer’s perceptual engine and intensifies the multitude of subliminal stimuli.

Finally, Curious Tautophone – Tensor Field Ontology deals with the basic structures that are connecting reality and possibility, the role of the robot being to recalibrate the cognitive tissue that binds man and machine.


Katrin Hochschuh and Adam Donovan met in 2016 through a mutual network of artists, architects and researchers in Zürich, Switzerland.

Katrin Hochschuh is a media artist with an architectural background in digital design and robotic fabrication. Her artwork connects the digital and the physical realm, exploring robotic behaviours, algorithms and interactivity, always seeing the human, his perception and social implications of technology at the center of her work. Writing her own software allows her to connect deeply with technology and to implement her ideas and concepts without constraints.

Adam Donovan is a hybrid media artist working in the area of science, art and technology. His artwork incorporates nonlinear acoustics, robotic sculpture, game engine environments and camera tracking. Donovan pioneered work into ultrasonics and acoustic beamforming as an artist in residence with the Defense science and technology organization in Australia since 2001. He explores the intangible aspects of physics to amplify their effects creating new mediums and experiences. Specializing in designing custom hardware and his own electronic circuits his creativity has no bounds in creating new robotic companions.

As a duo Hochschuh and Donovan amplify their strengths of working in software and hardware, combining matter and information in their unexpected artworks. Since first prototypes in 2018 during their EMARE residency with Kontejner in Zagreb, they research and develop their ongoing project Empathy Swarm which premiered as a swarm of 50 robots at QUT Art Museum in Brisbane in 2019. At the intersection of technical and conceptual development, they showed different iterations as Performative Installation at WRO Media Art Biennale 2019 and HEK’s Oslo Night 2020.

As an answer to the Covid pandemic, they fostered an online version of Empathy Swarm with the title “Telerobotics for Social Interaction as a Symbiotic Reminiscence of Human-Machine Cohabitation” in a collaboration with Impakt’s online exhibition “Cyborg Futures” 2020.

Their directional sound robot with real time projections Curious Tautophone – Tensor field Ontology is touring Australia as part of Experimenta Make Sense – Triennial of Media Art since 2017. In parallel to their exhibitions, Hochschuh and Donovan collaborate with Łukasz Szałankiewicz under the name of “Saturn 3” combining experimental sound with sound robots and real-time projections in performances at major European Sound art festivals.

Together Hochschuh and Donovan create sophisticated robotic mechanisms that play with the unobtrusive uncanny systems within us. Their works and machines invoke an otherness or timelessness that is only present in the here and now.

Artists' website:

< Curious Tautophone – Tensor Field Ontology; robotic sound sculpture and responsive projection, 2017; photo: Katrin Hochschuh and Adam Donovan

MMC KIBLA/KiBela, Ulica kneza Koclja 9, Maribor
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Photo: Janez Klenovšek

Photo: Janez Klenovšek



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