Giga-Hertz Award 2018
Giga Hertz Prize 2018 in red lettering on green background
Sat, November 24, 2018 – Sun, November 25, 2018, Festival

ZKM and the EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO of the SWR have been awarding the Giga-Hertz Award for electronic music since 2007. In 2018, the prizewinners will again be celebrated with concerts, performances and award ceremonies as part of a two-day festival.

This year, visionaries from the fields of »Network« and »Live Coding« as well as for the first time from the field of »Artificial Intelligence« will be honored. 

In addition to the festive award ceremony followed by a reception, the production prize winners of recent years will perform performances and concerts.

The Giga-Hertz Award is dedicated to the world-famous physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894). He taught at the Technical University of Karlsruhe (now known as the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) at the end of the 19th century and discovered electromagnetic waves there. The objective of the award is to promote electronic music and to provide an impetus through new tonal and compositional possibilities.

Retrospective Thoughts on the Giga-Hertz Award


Poster Giga-Hertz Award 2018 at ZKM | Karlsruhe

Main Award for Lifetime Achievement 2018

A ›hub‹ is a small device that connects computers to a local network. In 1986 a group of six musicians named themselves after this inconspicuous piece of technology. The existence of the Internet was known only to experts then, and not even those could foresee the significance it would one day have. The six musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area sensed a creative potential in the idea of letting their musical instruments talk to each other.

John Bischoff, Chris Brown, Tim Perkis, Mark Trayle, Phil Stone and Scot Gresham-Lancaster took inspiration from their environment: the music of Harry Partch and John Cage taught them the composer's self-image as one who builds his own instruments; they found in David Tudor and Gordon Mumm the understanding of electronics not only as a tool, but as a musical actor that causes irritation and unwanted finds; the contumaciousness of their sounds and structures is the expression of an anti-consumptionist counter-culture.

But The Hub was not the beginning. What The Hub did with the first regular desktop computers had previously been done by the League of Automatic Music Composers with self-soldered circuit boards and rudimentary precursors of the PC, such as the KIM-1 in 1976. Jim Horton infected Rich Gold and later Hub co-founders Tim Perkis and John Bischoff with his fascination for a ›silicon orchestra‹ that develops a life of its own and connects with people. Tables full of homemade and tricky wired electronics were not an instrument for the League, but an artificial, non-human part of the ›band‹. The Hub transformed this largely analogue approach into the digital age.

How much an art is deadlocked, how much it overlooks and how much bigger its universe could actually be, can only be seen when someone comes along who thinks it differently from the skratch. The Hub does that, for example, with a piece like »Minister of Pitch«. While in our understanding of music every musician plays a certain instrument, e.g. the bass line, the main melody, the drums, in this piece every musician is responsible for one aspect of all instruments: one for the timbre, one for the timing, and another, the »Minister of Pitch«, for the pitch. It goes without saying that such music sounds unusual.

Music, however, has not only an aesthetic dimension, but also always a political, social one. The Hub uses rules, but not superordinate scores. The hierarchy between the musicians is flat, or power is passed on, as in a democracy. The French economist and philosopher Jacques Attali certifies that music is the art form that can test new social and political models most quickly, long before they are elaborately implemented in society.

The Hub do this when they build systems that do not have superordinate control structures and in which power is distributed - quite contrary to the tendency of European art music, in which the power of composer and conductor has expanded more and more over the centuries. What happens in music when we introduce such other rules? What happens when we connect the net ever more closely to our body, our perception and our society? The Hub music has been a testbed for such musical and social issues for over 30 years.

– Author: Golo Föllmer

Production Prize Winners 2018

for »point of view« (2017), for soprano saxophone (+VR glasses), electronics and video

for »+3x10^8m/s, beyond the light velocity« (2017-18), Fixed Media

Special Award Artificial Intelligence 2018 | Martino Sarolli (Italy)

The Special Prize for an AI-related work is given to Martino Sarolli for his work »Lapidario_E01«. This is the first half of a distich about mineral life, conceived as a multi-channel piece for live electronics. Sarolli uses state-of-the art machine-learning technologies to re-synthesize a complex sound material under live control. »Lapidario_E01«, on the theme of silicon crystals - the very basis of computer technology - is composed by a human, but combines the best of both worlds. It is elegant, organic, and powerful.

– Author: Palle Dahlstedt

Martino Sarolli

Giga Hertz Prize 2018 in red lettering on green background

Honorary Mention

for »Decoder« (2016), for MIDI drum pads, projections, and electronic sounds


Saturday, November 24, 2018

 7 pm

Giga-Hertz Award ceremony

  • Presentation of the award winners 2018
  • Performances and work presentations of the 2018 and 2016 production prize winners
    among others with the SWR Experimentalstudio
Media Theater  

Concert of the award winners 2018

  • Performance of the main award winners 2018
  • Performance by Valerio Tricoli (Astral Colonels, Giga Hertz production prize winner 2017)


Sunday, November 25, 2018

 4 pm 

Lecture of the Giga-Hertz ​​​​main award winners 2018

with subsequent conversation

 6 pm 

Concert of the winners 2016 and 2017 

with presentation of the works of Elvira Garifzyanova

and Daniel Zea (2016) created by the production prizes

and Maurilio Cacciatore (2017)




Giga-Hertz Award 2018



Giga-Hertz Award 2018

Project Team

Ludger Brümmer (Artistic Direction)
Dorte Becker, Sophie Caecilia Hesse (Project management, program brochure)
Benjamin Miller, Anton Kossjanenko (Sound engineer)
David Luchow (Sound technician)
Anton Kossjanenko (Sound recordings)
Hans Gass, Manuel Weber, Hartmut Bruckner (Light and event technology)
Christian Berkes, Marco Kempf, Manuel Urrutia (Hands Light and event technology)

Ludger Brümmer (Composer, Head of ZKM | Hertz-Lab)
Christiane Riedel (Managing Director of ZKM | Karlsruhe)
Alexandra Cardenas (Composer, Improviser, Programmer)
Detlef Heusinger (Artistic Director of SWR Experimentalstudio)
Palle Dahlstedt (Composer, Professor for »Art & Technology« at Aalborg Universität)
Björn Gottstein (Muscologist, Artistic Director of Donaueschinger Musiktage)

Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media