With his electric jolts triggering an automatic tweet, an electric eel residing in the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, USA is one of the few non-human living organisms creating lively content for an X (formerly Twitter) account. With pre-written posts like “ZZZAAPPP” and “CRACKLE” the employees of the aquarium gave a speculative voice to the electric signal that electric eels naturally emit - each triggering an individual tweet.

The tweets of Miguel, as the eel was named by the aquarium employees, appear to be gimmicks; a somewhat perverse onomatic display of an electric voice in distress. For it is precisely in moments of fright or self-defence that an Amazonian eel such as Miguel, would typically discharge. Which brings to thinking, if in fact not most tweets originate from a somewhat similar sentiment. What Miguel experiences locally, within the secluded space of his aquarium tank, has been magnified and expanded globally on a social media platform – exposed to the public eye.

Jolt, a long distance lullaby, is a speculative dialogue in text and sound that offers a compassionate and sometimes soothing response to a call of distress. Following the logic of the lullaby: an ancient and global practice of singing or humming in order to sooth or comfort, Mascini developed a sound composition and a written text which will gradually evolve with each tweet – and thus each electric jolt – that Miguel emits. The lullaby serves as a mediator that offers relief and contemplation for both the person sung-to, as well as the singer.

Previously, the installation responded in real time throughout the duration of an exhibition in P/////AKT, Amsterdam, which was made possible by a collaboration between the artist and the Tennessee Aquarium. Miguel’s distress accumulated throughout the exhibition time span, like a progression of pain, reaching moments of tenderness as well as a growing desperation.
31+1 LCD displays, programmed interface mac mini, daisy chain of electric cabling, dried daisies and other flowers, text file, 10 min stereo sound composition in loop, LED night lamp, cast with sculpted gel nails.

With contributions of: Mack Lunn, Joseph Powell and Jake Graves (Tennessee Tech), Tennessee Aquarium, Nicolás Sánchez aka nyksan and Diego Andrés Contento (sound composition and mixing), Kees Reedijk (electronics and programming) and Mihnea Mircan (in conversation).

exhibition views at P////AKT, Amsterdam photos: Chun-Han Chiang

︎︎︎download the commissioned text by Mihnea Mircan

︎listen to the interview (NL) with Springvossen

©2024 Vibeke Mascini. All rights reserved.