A Script for Machine Synthesis - Florian Hecker

A personal note to Florian Hecker’s ‘A Script for Machine Synthesis’.

by Geert Lebens, 2 March 2015

Florian Hecker’s performance confronts us with our society’s collective interpretations of objects, in this performance embodied by a pink ice cube. What makes the object to what it means to us and can this change when we leave our common ways of interpretation behind us? Hecker attemps to take us to the origins of our relation with our environment, alienating us from the object in front of us and our way of sensing it. The pink ice cube becomes both an abstraction of matter as an abstraction of the mind. The performance simply just doesn’t let you go before your rational thinking mind reaches a state where you perceive the object in a giddy way in order to understand a new system of thinking. A system where there will probably be no definite definition of the pink ice cube, leaving this object in abstraction and infinite complexity of notion. In this performance Hecker uses – what he is known for – sound in the form of a synthetic voice to drag our attention to the pink ice cube in front of us. In order to trigger all senses to confuse the mind they added a perfume to the experience, which was distributed at the entrance of the room.

While looking at a slowly melting pink ice cube for 60 minutes, the object reveals itself as what it is. But what is it? What conventionally makes the object, is our collective notion as formed by our socio cultural truth that is only relevant in our current cultural context. The way we attempt to make sense of our environment in the hope to create a collective truth in which we humans can operate as a unity. Limiting our individual capabilities of understanding our environment in the sense of a personal perception and experience, creating an alternative notion of our surroundings which could be suggested as a catalyst of cultural change.

Influenced by a speculating, philosophizing and analysing synthetic voice – most likely to be created by a machine, but also embodies clear traces of native human sound and articulation – as well introduces us to a new system of perception as making us aware of how relative a truth can be and that this truth can only exist while supported by a system. Our current western system of perception and defining an object has grown to be a volatile one, in order to support an ever increasing efficiency and streamlining directed by time; existing as a benchmark. We can notice Hecker’s performance as an artificial way of interpreting our environments, one that’s less dependent on synthetic scales; stretching an ordinary amount of time for perception from just a second to an hour. Creating new requirements and freeing us from the conventional, confronting us temporarily with a transformation of our common patterns of thinking.


A Script for Machine Synthesis - Florian Heckerphoto: Geert Lebens

photo: Geert Lebens

photo: Pieter Kers for Metropolis M


A Script for Machine Synthesis is a performance,

  • Written and produced by Florian Hecker (artist)
  • Libretto by Reza Negarestani (philosopher)
  • Voice by Charlotte Rampling (recorded by Olivier Pasquet)
  • Synthetic voice designed by Rob Clark (Centre for Speech Technology Research, University of Edinburgh)
  • Perfume created by Carlos Benaïm, IFF and Frédéric Malle, Editions de Parfums 

Curated by Sonic Acts

A Script for Machine Synthesis was performed on 26 and 28 February and 1 March 2015 at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam as part of Sonic Acts Festival.