A Fractal Manifesto, by  Abigail Toll & Stina Baudin

Sculptural and sonic quad speaker installation shown as part of the series ‘Rehersing Moves on hazy Paths’ at ZK/U, Berlin. 

Material list: six woven panels: used pleather, celluloid film, copper; motion sensor, projector, archive images. Sound installation: field recordings, bells, voice, flute, electronics, quad speakers. Track 2: 12-string guitar performed by Shub Roy. Music dur. 38:00 minutes.


Data is a tool used to collect information and convey how social structures impact our lived experiences. The visualized recordings of our lives –  represented in the form of images, graphs, observations, symbols and numbers – are widely considered as fact. Yet categorisation often misrepresents marginalized people, or not at all.

In this visual sonic spatial installation, Canadian-Haitian visual artist Stina Baudin and British, Berlin-based experimental music artist Abigail Toll, attempt to break down the objective logic of a dataset. Through a process of what theorist Denise Ferreira da Silva terms fractal thinking, they “de-centre time and sequentiality to identify compositional patterns that reveal the structuring grammar of our world.” Through a process spanning almost a year, the artists collect truth values from their own daily experiences and co-create across the six hour time difference between Germany and Canada. Together, they distort hierarchies of knowledge and center nuanced conversations surrounding their histories of migration that are ordinarily left absent from datasets. In a series of studies, they layer together six woven panels combined with six music movements that encapsulate six themes – etymologies, water, time/displacement, flight, wonder, and memory – the six topics are generated through their research and illustrated with digitized and distorted layering of woven images and sound, as well as a co-creative manifesto. The fragmented sound and illegible visual documentation calls into question not only the absence and distortions that the artists found in previous datasets, but highlights how lived experience and memories (our truth values) undergo a process of fragmentation and distortion over time.

Photos: Shirin Barthel