Sam Auinger & katrinem
Meadow by the carillon
The measures taken in the course of the Covid 19 pandemic have made it clear how communal activities or solitary walks in the public space change its acoustic ecology while also raising collective awareness of it. With the installation Sounding Reflections set up in front of the Haus, Sam Auinger and katrinem invite the audience to experimentally experience how sound – along with all its sonic and musical potentials – is diffused on sound-reflecting cladding panels. While the ambient noise fades into the background to a gentle hiss, a simple clap of the hands, for example, can result in a “flutter echo” between each of the surfaces, which causes various modulation effects depending on the position of the visitors and their distance from the reflecting panels.
The sculptural work is accompanied by a listening-places map by Auinger and katrinem, in which the sound artists record and explain the different acoustic phenomena of various spatial points around HKW. Additionally, katrinem will lead a Sounding Reflections Walk through the sonic hall of mirrors once a day in order to make the specific architectural sonorities of the building reverberate together with the visitors.
Phantom Words – Spatial Edition
Diana Deutsch is a trained psychologist who devotes her artistic work to sonic perception phenomena, including so-called “phantom words.” In the cloakroom lobby of HKW, she invites visitors to fall for acoustic illusions. Her Phantom Words consist of no more than two intonations of a single word or the different syllables of a single phrase played back time-delayed in stereo over two loudspeakers. Before these reach the audience’s ears, superimpositions of the sounds take place in the room. The more time that passes, the more new words or even whole phrases seem to emerge from the back-and-forth of syllables. What exactly is heard varies from person to person and can sometimes reveals things about one’s own self: Sometimes, scraps from other languages are mixed in for non-native speakers, other times, phrases seem to correlate with the respective person’s state of mind.
After Deutsch made her experiments accessible for home use in 2003 on the album Phantom Words and Other Curiosities, at The Sound of Distance she presents eight brand-new phantom words in a Spatial Edition that reveal new (inner) worlds to her audience between a setup of several speakers.
Andi Toma & Hani Mojtahedy
Singing from the peak of Jabal Shirin: According to local legends, long ago, beautiful Shirin fled to a mountain to mourn her lost love. Later, the mountain range in the Kurdish border region of northern Iraq and Iran was named after her. Hani Mojtahedy reinterpreted Shirin’s lament as handed down in Kurdish at the site. Regardless of human border-making, she let her song resound through the valley where numerous victims of inhumane politics are buried. Her voice also reached the Iranian side of the mountain and the echo reverberated from there, where women are permitted to sing only in choirs, not alone. Together with Mouse on Mars member Andi Toma, Mojtahedy brings her singing and its reverberations to Berlin. Recorded with different microphones, Toma creates an echo chamber around her voice. Just as Shirin’s songs once resounded through the Kurdish mountains, Mojtahedy’s singing does so centuries later under the arched roof of HKW – not only as an installation, but also live on three dates. Sound and words can so easily overcome geographical borders. Can listening to them be a crime?
keeping the ball rolling, HKW, Berlin 2021 | filling a space with salt (for one listener) 2021
Corridor of the lecture hall | Lower lobby, telephone booth
Sound artist crys cole creates intimacy through intensity in her work, which is documented on a number of recordings and regularly presented in exhibitions around the world. keeping the ball rolling is one of her series of site-specific sound installations. In it, cole sends her audience through a stereo field, at both poles of which loudspeakers play back recordings from microphones that in turn have recorded the Canadian artist rolling a ball around on the floor. In this way, cole’s radius of action in the Haus also becomes the listening space of the visitors, who can follow her movements through time and space or traverse them directly.
While the title of keeping the ball rolling is a figure of speech, filling a space with salt can be understood somewhat more literally. Visitors standing alone in one of HKW’s telephone booths are not physically, but acoustically showered with salt – and thus shown how the perception of certain sounds can influence that of the space around them. Intimate, intense experiences are guaranteed.
Auditory Scene Re-Synthesis as Cochlear Wavepackets
Marcin Pietruszewski & Jan St. Werner
Our ears not only pick up sounds, they also make their own. During the hearing process, so-called otoacoustic emissions are produced in the inner ear in response to the incoming sound. This phenomenon thus turns supposedly passive listeners into active (if not aware) sound producers. Marcin Pietruszewski and Jan St. Werner explore otoacoustic emissions and their diverse implications with their sound installation Auditory Scene Re-Synthesis as Cochlear Wavepackets.
Field recordings and sounds produced with special software are assembled into a sound collage that is played through numerous loudspeakers in the lecture hall of HKW. It is the right place for an installation that not only elicits output from the visitor’s ears, but also provides the in-between with input. For woven into the work are words about the historical, technological and physiological contexts of the phenomena at the center of the work, read out by a computer-generated voice that illuminates their physical and psychological dimensions. This can be experienced while walking, sitting, standing or lying down. All it takes is one’s own open ears and the will to give free rein to the myriad of acoustic micro-sensations.
In front of the main entrance
Thresholds are both inclusive and exclusive. On the one hand, they always exist as an opening between one room and another; on the other hand, they determine who has access to what places and under what conditions. Nowhere else do the laws of space, people and control become as transparent as they do at a threshold. In his academic and artistic work, Louis Chude-Sokei is concerned with concepts of technology and race as well as the construct of a universal subject who is primarily understood as white. Accordingly, the research as well as curatorial practice of the Echolocution founder repeatedly questions certain conceptual thresholds that are deeply rooted in cultural, social and political contexts, while at the same time contrasting them with alternative ways of interpreting and thinking.
His sound art work Thresholds for The Sound of Distance can only be heard in its entirety by crossing the threshold between HKW and the outside world: In the entrance area of the building, words read aloud by the author run in a loop, supplemented by sound beyond the gate heard via loudspeakers installed there. The threshold is thus staged both aesthetically and spatially while we consciously experience how Chude-Sokei critically puts it to the test with his writing.
Drink the Distance
Michael Akstaller & Nele Jäger
In their work series Hearing the Architecture, Michael Akstaller and Nele Jäger explore human patterns of perception in relation to space and sound. Developed in collaboration with Jan St. Werner and Milan Ther, the series of performances and installations has been investigating architecture through the interaction of visual and acoustic parameters since 2019. Akstaller and Jäger repeatedly focus on the so-called “negative space,” through which architecture also has an effect on its respective environment outside of a building’s structure. In addition to visual impressions, sound is understood as a central design tool that significantly influences the conception, understanding and experience of buildings and of space itself.
With their site-specific work Drink the Distance, Akstaller and Jäger apply their jointly developed methodology to the three flagpoles on the roof terrace of HKW. The spatial distance from the base of the poles to their tops at a lofty height can be experienced through sound impulses when approached by the audience. Set into vibration by wind and touch, the bearers of striking visual signals thus also reveal what they have to say by means of sound.