Tom O’Doherty

Tom O’Doherty is an artist based in Berlin. His work combines elements of durational and time-based art, video art, and electroacoustic music and sound. This work often engages processes, sounds, and movements that come close to imperceptibility, and the ways in which this material can be transformed through repetition, patterning, layering, and archiving. He has exhibited and presented work at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Serralves Museum, Porto; National Museum of Contemporary Art (Chiado), Lisbon; Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin; Kunstkraftwerk, Leipzig; and Digital in Berlin’s Kiezsalon series, Berlin, among others.


Trains / Other Trains
Ongoing current research project · Collaboration with Kata Kovács, Kris Slyka, and others · 2020
Video: Other Trains (research documentation excerpt 1) [no audio] · Video: Other Trains (research documentation excerpt 2) [no audio]

In writing about the history of technology in 1999, the philosopher Paul Virilio quipped that “the invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck.” All technologies not only become more obsolete over time, but they also contains hints of their own future state of disuse and abandonment.

Trains / Other Trains is a research project derived from the overlap of two areas of technology — machine learning, and railways. One is relatively new, and the other much older.

The social and industrial innovation of railways was once the radical cutting-edge of human technology. However, it has had the time not only to become mature, but also to develop layers of ruins, disused remnants, and buried vestiges.

At present, artificial intelligence and machine learning are in the process of steadily becoming ubiquitous, and for many, they have come to represent the forefront of current technological possibilities. At the same time, these technologies contain their own inherent biases and flaws, and the possible future integral “shipwrecks” that these technologies contain are still unknown.

With this in mind, I have been researching the possibilities of using machine learning algorithms to generate audio of trains which have never existed, but are generated in software — computer-dreamt imaginings of non-existent trains. In parallel with this, I am also retracing, on foot, the routes of a series of abandoned, disused, or disappeared railway lines in Berlin and Brandenburg.

On these walks, I have been playing the machine-learning-generated audio from small battery-powered speakers — thus combining the physical route of nonexistent, now-absent trains with an accompaniment of nonexistent, computer-imagined sound. This research process is currently ongoing.

Ventana (Día 35)
Film soundtrack · Collaboration with Ana Matey and Kata Kovács · 2020
Video: Ventana (Día 35)

Music for short film by Ana Matey. The film is one of a series that was undertaken from March 2020, as a response to the sudden change in circumstance caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Each day, for 51 days, a different video portrait was created by Ana Matey in front of the same window. Each film was then given to a different musician or sound artist to create an accompanying soundtrack. This was Day 35.

Carried Bells
Durational process · Installation · Collaboration with Kata Kovács · 2019
Video: Carried Bells at Hosek Contemporary, Berlin · Full details

Carried Bells is a process-based work, in which sounds and images of a series of twenty ringing bells were recorded in an urban environment. These recordings were then carried, on foot, in a repeating daily task, to a central installation, which added one recording each day over the course of the presentation of the work.

Carried Bells harvested traces from the city — exploring acoustic phenomena, social history, and the potential of public space. The incrementally-accumulating installation that emerged allows these individual recordings of particular bells to accrete and combine in unpredictable ways. The work aimed to bring the bells of the city out of the backgrounds of our attention, to recontextualise them, and to re-imagine them.

Signal Tide
Installation · Collaboration with Kata Kovács and David Bryant · 2017–present
Website · Sound mix (LACMA)

Signal Tide is a sound and extraterrestrial radio installation artwork. The work combines real-time signals from an abandoned satellite currently orbiting the earth (the LES-1, launched in 1965) with specially-commissioned music and sound, created in collaboration with David Bryant (of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Hiss Tracts) and Tom O’Doherty. Signal Tide was initially presented at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, from September 21.–24., 2017.

Durational installation · Collaboration with Kata Kovács · 2016–present
Minute/Year archive · Minute/Year full details

Minute/Year is an automated, sound-based, multi-year durational installation artwork. It creates a new, one-minute recording every day. Each day’s recording is published online. Minute/Year alters location each year. For the whole of 2020, the work is installed in bb15, in Linz, Austria. Minute/Year began on January 1st, 2016. It has no set ending date.

FAKE Company
Interdisciplinary performance · Collaborative group performances under direction of Kathleen Hermesdorf · 2016–present
Video: FAKE Company at Dock 11 · FAKE Company at Dock 11

FAKE Company is an international arrangement of performers, an intentionally fluid and flexible group. Gathered by Kathleen Hermesdorf of ALTERNATIVA in San Francisco, FAKE Company is a container and instigator for artistic freedom within creative collaboration, embedded and embodied in ongoing practices of improvisation in movement, theater, sound and visual art. FAKE Company has been presented in Berlin, Stolzenhagen and San Francisco.

Sound · Collaborative improvisation ensemble
Video: Otolitos live in Bludný kámen, Opava, Oct. 9., 2018 · Photo · Photo · Photo
Website · Bandcamp

Otolitos is improv minimalist amplified sound by Tristen, Tom, Agnė, and Angie. One guy called us soft noise. We do drums / bass / noisebox / loopstation / projections. Email us and we will come and play in your basement.