Graham Harwood (Mongrel)

Lungs: Slave Labour


Werk - Lungs: Slave Labour
Artist / Artist group
Graham Harwood (Mongrel)
Lungs: Slave Labour
installation, computer-based, Sound installation
Material / Technique
computer-based sound installation; table and chair, computer (Macintosh G5, operating system: OSX, individual software, sound database), modified CRT monitor, 4 active loudspeakers, subwoofer, mixing console
Dimensions / Duration
Installation dimensions variable
ZKM | Center for Art and Media

The building in which the ZKM is located looks back on an changeful history. Over 4,500 forced laborers who were deported from their home countries worked in the building of the Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken A.G.

With the installation »Lungs: Slave Labour«, British artist Graham Harwood created a "software poem memorial" for the forced laborers from Poland, the Soviet Union, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway and Czechoslovakia. What at first glance looks like a computer workstation is a sound installation. Breathing sounds can be heard from the loudspeakers. Breaths of different kinds of sound follow each other. They are each assigned to a person whose biographical data can be seen on the computer screen. In order to create the synthetic breaths, Harwood used a database of the General State Archive Karlsruhe, which contains anonymized data on 57,000 forced laborers. Using variables such as age, gender and height, he defined their lung capacity and translated these into a synthetic breathing sound. Harwood noted: "T This attempt to give a database a pair of lungs reconnects people with a political atrocity in a very visceral way". [1]

1] Graham Harwood, "Lung: Slave Labour", in:, 19 June 2017,, accessed on: 26.03.2020.

Author: Julia Ihls / Margit Rosen

About the artist/s