Center For Cellular Alignment
speculative educational center, disorientation therapy
Arcus Project, Ibaraki, Japan, 2017


As a way to speculate upon how a city's siren infrastructure may be utilized for purposes of healing as well as signal warning, I developed a library of 'siren candidates' specific to the sounds of Japan and tested their dis/orienting qualities at a community center in Moriya, Ibaraki with the support of Arcus Project.

The sound-library includes Bonsho (multi-ton, ancient temple bells), the ultrasonics of cicadas and other-worldly Pachinko melodies, the shamanic chanting of the Itako in rural Aomori, the fierce screaming and stomping of the Kendo club in Moriya, and on and on.

The culmination of the 110-day residency resulted in Center for Cellular Alignment; a speculative educational space providing individuals with intimate and disorienting 'experiential lectures' utilizing the sound library. Though each lecture resulted in a unique composition, they all approached sound as an inherently fractal phenomena whereby one can physically access large-scale seismic events through even the smallest of noises and sound-waves. The lectures are aimed at re-visioning our relationship to earthquakes and tsunamis through sensorially unstable and unpredictable multi-channel sound compositions, generating a type of listening experience which may be used as a tool for understanding seismicity.

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  In the "womb" (photo courtesy of Arcus Project)

In the "womb" (photo courtesy of Arcus Project)


"For Tamm, sounds, a tsunami, and an earthquake are all things that result from waves and, as such, inherently possess correlation. During his residency, he visited the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo and the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience, and conducted research on the relationship between sound and Buddhism, Shinto, and folk beliefs. He also came into contact with traditional Japanese instruments such as the koto and continued to increase his collection of sounds in his audio library, recording the sounds of bells at temples in Kyoto and Ibaraki Prefecture as well as the sounds made during the casting of a temple bell at a foundry in the town of Makabe in Ibaraki. He also conducted a workshop involving an amateur chorus group in Moriya.

At Open Studios (with Arcus Project), visitors are invited to lie down and listen to the sounds. This “listening session” is an attempt to use sounds in order to evoke some hereditary ability within our bodies, similarly to how catfish can supposedly sense tremors before earthquakes happen, and that has perhaps lain dormant since ancient times. In Tamm’s way of thinking, we can find the connectivist idea of trying to locate links between things that initially seem unrelated."

Kenichi Kondo
Guest Curator 2017 / Curator, Mori Art Museum