Tobias Ebsen is a designer, artist and creative technologist working with digital media installations. He has produced and collaborated on a large number of projects, exploring the intersections of digital technology, art, and public spaces. Among these projects is the lighting design for the Denmark Pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. The works have mainly focused on the architectural and material potentials of technology, where interaction and perception is situated and embedded in a physical context. Tobias Ebsen holds a PhD degree from Aarhus University in Denmark at the Department for Aesthetics and Communication. His dissertation titled “Material Screen” investigated the notion of “materiality” as an artistic approach in media art and media architecture. He is currently based en Copenhagen, where he works independently with designing and implementing media installations.
Ebsen holds a PhD in digital design from Aarhus University (2013) and has exhibited internationally with past projects including: ‘Power Display. Sydney (AU)’ – Public display of power consumption in residential housings (2013), ‘Wall of Light. Copenhagen Airport’ – Illuminated advertisement, commissioned by Carlsberg Denmark and ‘Denmark Pavilion Façade, Shanghai (CN)’ – Media façade using 3600 independent LED fixtures, collaboration with CAVI, BIG and Martin Professional. Commisioned by the Danish Business Authority.
Exhibited work: ‘Upper Boundary’
“Upper Boundary is a work that explores the notion of dynamic, living space, where the audience has the means to change the space above their heads.
By walking under a number of lamps, their presence is translated into light represented vertically as pillars of illumination. And by raising their hands and reaching out, you are invited to affect the light from above and experience a new type of upper space.
The installation consists of 10 vertical tubes with LED lighting inside and ultrasonic distance sensors in the bottom. The sensors measure the distance to the nearest point and thereby lets the lamps react to the presence of the audience.”
Exhibited work: ‘Poème Mécanique’
Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, Place des Arts
“Created by Copenhagen-based artist and researcher Tobias Ebsen, Poème Mécanique is an electromechanical sound sculpture in Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, a public walkway connecting the Place-des-Arts metro and Complexe Desjardins in Montréal. Utilizing a continuous ring of 840 flip-dot mirror disks and defining a 4.2 metre circular space the piece offers a subtle sonic counterpoint to the din of a (generally) bustling public thoroughfare. Developed as part of the broader “Common Space?” initiative (a partnership between MUTEK, Quartier des spectacles, and the National Film Board), the piece is one of eight media art installations presently installed at a variety of public and semi-public spaces throughout Quartier des spectacles in downtown Montréal.
With a total running time of just under five minutes, Poème Mécanique mobilizes its underlying electromechanical technology to novel ends. Rather than use flip-dot to render graphics, it offers a very subtle 840×1 resolution surface that is more invested in demarcation than display. When entering its enclosure, visitors are invited to let its cascading rhythms wash over them. “Placing them in a circle gives the experience of being surrounded by the sound – much more than can be achieved with Dolby 5.1,” Ebsen summarizes. “The ear is much more direction-aware than we think.” However, the walkway was louder than anticipated and listeners need to work to attune themselves to the subtle machinations. Unfazed by the ‘mix’ of ambient noise intruding on Poème Mécanique, Ebsen insists the contrast ‘is not a bug, but a feature.’ “It is a bit difficult to hear the low parts of the composition, but the audience ends up concentrating to hear the sound, and as a result, filter out the surrounding soundscape.” And filtering out the surroundings is of course the endgame here – taking a break from the noise of the crowd and routine movements across the city – if only for a few quiet moments.”
Exhibited work: ‘Poème Mécanique’
“This electromechanical sound sculpture is made from a thousand mirror disks that revolve around a central axis to create a delicate symphony. Simply stand in the centre of the circle to experience music like you’ve never heard it before. Surrounded by sound, you’ll feel entirely cut off from the world—while standing right in the middle of a public space.”