Decoding it the hard way



A performance that describes the interaction with an encrypted network. Two server racks, wired to each other with 96 network cables symbolize its revealed connections. The entangled performers try to decrypt the black box with brute force.

Seen at: DOCK 11 Berlin, CerModern Ankara, Angewandte Festival 2022, Kultursommer Wien 2021


Every cable is connected to a sensor. When the performer pulls and strangles the cables the sound and lights are altered.



Decoding it the hard way is a multimedia dance performance created by the dancer/choreographer Lea Karnutsch and the media artist/musician Ferdinand Doblhammer. Encrypted and invisible data is distributed in networks of all kinds. In their undecipherable form they exist in close proximity, ready to be touched and worked with. But the manual search after a data string with meaning seems to be impossible at first glance. The only way to find something of significance is with a lot of endurance and/or sheer brute force.

Two server racks are placed on stage, which are connected with 96 ethernet cables. These racks symbolize the hidden processes inherit to every network – the cables strained between the towers make an alteration and perception of the data possible. The performer is thrown into this system and tries to decrypt as much as possible for herself (and the audience). Each pull on a cable is measured live, translated into data and alters the sound.

Every cable is directly connected to sound parameters. Each will react differently on every touch. In the only way to interact, make sense and decypher the system, she tries to cause visual and audible disruptions by pulling, straining, punching and throwing the cables.

This seemingly uncovers the Black Box, but in the process of doing so, the foreign body more and more becomes part of the system itself and drowns in the connections.

The music was exclusively written by Ferdinand Doblhammer for the piece and is performed live while the straining and pulling alters and distorts the sound in its texture and rhythmic properties. After intensive confrontation with the object and instrument, Lea Karnutsch exclusively created a choreography for the piece.