→ Zugzwang*

Photo: Matthias Nemmert at Ars Electronica Festival (Linz, AT)

Zugzwang is an eight-channel audio/single-channel video installation co-created by Christina Gruber and Samuel Hertz for the 2020 edition of the Ars Electronica Festival.

Zugzwang explores how a non-human centered approach to the use of technology can help us tune in to our companion species & environments. Though sound is omnipresent, we have problems understanding. Miscommunication and distortion happen constantly. Can listening become a central asset in learning about our environment?

Zugzwang – German for “compulsion to move” – is a situation found in chess and other turn-based games where one player is put at a disadvantage because they must make a move when they would prefer to pass and not move. In this case, it explores how a non-human centered approach towards the use of technology can help us to tune in with our companion species & environments. Sound can connect and, depending on the vantage, received, propagated, and perceived.

The attempt to tune-in with our environments opens possibilities to critically discuss questions around listening, talking, and connecting with all our companions, living and non-living. Listening doesn’t merely extend to caring for each other, but to eavesdropping on other species to prevent threats.