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Sonambiente Berlin 2006, the festival for hearing and seeing, was held from June 1st to July 16th and it generated an extensive network of events throughout the center of Berlin.

More than 50 internationally renowned artists exhibited their sound installations and film at the “Akademie der Kunste,” the “Berliner Festspiele,” the former Polish embassy, the Allianz buildings, which are standing on the Ku’damm and near by the East Station and “Tesla,” which is the residence for the sound artists.
The public viewing was also held at the sonambiente as it parallels to the football world cup which was opened from June 9th to July 9th.

As an overall trend of this exhibition, I get the impression that many of the works in this show questions the very basic nature of music and sound installation. They are looking for the unsolvable answer that on how sound should be installed (included, embeded, stoled…) and sounded. The interpretation of the answer depends on each artists. Some artists, for example, are trying to present the answer by playing the music with multi-channel monitors and speakers; Others by taking the outside sound and noise into their artwork. The exhibition fundamentally seems to suggest that the sound installation is something that should be experienced by viewers with their whole body and perception.

This exhibition changed my perception to the sound. For instance, the sound installation which was set up on the street that I always pass by made me to see everyday scenery differently and carefully. I was able to find the different meaning in the sounds of the city, which was excited to the world cup.

I would like to introduce some impressive artists and works in the exhibition.

Candice Breitz/Legend
The chorus of Bob Marley’s legendary song is played from the wall of 30 monitors. But if you take a look at each monitors carefully, a different person’s face is projected on each monitors. It is each person that sings the song along with Marley’s. This work pulls out much more dynamism and stirs up physical impression by reproducing “a chorus” using media.

The sound is played from the speaker which is installed in the ruined church building. Even the traffic noise and the birdsong from across the street are being heard as an artistic sound that plays with the viewer’s perception.

Kris Vleeschouwer/Glass Works
Glass Works is installed at the entrance of the Akademie der KunsteIn in Paris square. Glass Works consists of racks, filled with enormous amount of glass bottles and occasionally some of them have fallen from the racks. In fact this installation is linked to the glass recycling container in Berlin. Whenever someone throws glass into this container, glass is pushed out of the racks in the installation.

Edwin van der Heide/Pneumatic sound field
A lot of modules are mounted in Tesla’s courtyard, and the sound is created from the air shot through valves in modules. Valves modulate the air pressure, creating fluctuations in pressure in the surrounding air. The valves are digitally controlled to play the disturbing noise and abrasive sound. Visitors will interact with the air vibration and acoustic sound in unusual way.

Carsten Nicolai/Fades
The simple patterns of the white light projected on the screen are synchronised with the sound in the darkness. They cast the shadow over the fog which filled the inside of the room, evoking a comfortable feeling of floating.

Janet Cardiff+George Bures Miller/Opera for a small room
Because of the effect of sound and light, the work that looks like just a hut, which is crammed with old records, is instantly changed into a small house in the American countryside and the stage of the dynamic rock cabaret show. It ended in never ending cheers and applause from the audience. It was enormously impressive installation.

Sonambiente Berlin 2006

Date: 1st June – 16th July, 2006
Place: Akademie der Kunste, Berliner Festspiele, the former Polish embassy, Allianzgeb_ude am Ku´Damm and Tesla, etc.

Text and Photos: Yoshito Maeoka
Translation: Toyofumi Miura

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