Adam Donovan and Katrin Hochschuh


Curious Tautophone – Tensor Field Ontology


The name Curious Tautophone – Tensor Field Ontology, derives from projective auditory tests developed by psychologists Saul Rosenzweig and David Shakow and is based on behaviourist BF Skinner’s verbal Summator tests. The original Tautophone can be thought of as an Auditory Rorschach Inkblot where a sequence of vowels was repeated trying to trigger the understanding of an actual word hidden in the subconsciousness of the listener. The robot’s name is thus composed of the greek syllable tauto- meaning “repeating the same”, and its curious nature as a philosophical as well as scientific instrument of art and music, psychology and physics.

Curious TautophoneTensor Field Ontology is ultimately about the concept of lenses and focusing.  The robot controls a sound beam and sculpts the projection of a vector field, creating an audible and visual environment. Normally sound is intangible and the forces of electromagnetism are invisible. The unusual nature of hearing focused sound can be experienced as something unnatural and evokes a sense of uncanniness in the human observer. 

The role of the robot is to recalibrate the cognitive tissue that connects man and machine.  

robotics and responsive projection

60 x 60cm (robot) with variable projection

Adam Donovan and Katrin Hochschuh met through a mutual network of artists, architects and researchers during the installation of one of Donovan’s pieces at the Museum of Digital Art in Zurich, Switzerland. Discovering their mutual interest in the complex combination of multiple fields of art and science, they realized that their different backgrounds and competences merge very well and allow them to go deeper into these fields than one could alone.

Donovan is highly specialised in the field of scientific acoustics, researching focused acoustics and acoustic lenses in multiple fields of his artistic practice. Hochschuh has an architectural background in digital design and robotic fabrication, exploring architectural geometries, algorithms, swarm simulation and interactivity.

Their works and machines invoke an otherness or timelessness that is only present in the here and now.

Images courtesy of the artists © the artists