Inca Telefax. Listening to Pre-Columbian Administration Without Understanding a Word.

David Griffiths and Julian Rohrhuber 2016

Inca Telefax is an occasionally broadcasting three-channel installation of algorithmically generated sounds shown with pixelquipu, an accompanying visual score. The works derive their structure from Pre-Columbian quipu – necklace-shaped, knotted threads that were used for different, partly unknown, administrative and scientific tasks across the Inca empire. Quipu are thought to have contained data relating to calendar information or accounting within a large empire with no money or other forms of written record. Mysterious ‘narrative quipu’ also exist, which follow less clear patterns. The artists have employed sonification to create an aural insight into quipu, which identifies rhythmic structures that “would be easy to overlook visually”. The works introduce us to an abstracted, contemplative encounter with an ancient form of data collection. Produced as the result of a seminar with the music informatics students at the Institute for Music and Media at the Robert Schumann University of Music and Media, Düsseldorf.


Computer-generated sound installation


Thinking Out Loud
July 2016 - March 2017 at the Open Data Institute

Data Types

Generated, Social, State, Unknown

About the Artists

Dave Griffiths is an award winning game designer, programmer and livecoding algoraver based in Cornwall. In 2014 he co-founded Foam Kernow, an independent research institution for exploring uncharted regions of art/science and designing speculative cultures. With…
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Julian Rohrhuber, born 1973, studied visual communication at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg (HfbK) in the areas of philosophy, media theory and aesthetics, as well as digital systems, visual anthropology, fine arts and documentary…
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Inka Telefax, Julian Rohrhuber & David Griffiths, 2016. Computer-generated sound installation