photos Jane Dunker

An 8-channel sound installation with the sounds of Roman stones, produced by Peter Kiefer at the Bundesgartenschau, Koblenz, 2011, with the collaboration of Luca Spagnoletti.

This piece, created for the BUGA 2011 in Koblenz, was at the invitation of Peter Kiefer and the Uni-Mainz, where I am currently a guest professor in the MedienConvergence Project. In April 2011 I made a visit to the city-park where the sound installations were to be located. I had no idea what I find there, or what kind of sound-work I would make.

I looked around very carefully, thinking I would like to have some hidden off-center space to work in…I walked and looked and thought. Quickly I fell-in-love, with the old stone wall – maybe 50 meters long which delimits the park along the riverside.

In particular there were evenly spaced look-out holes cut into the wall at about a meter distance from one another… I imagined placing loudspeakers in these holes and connecting them in such a way as to make sound travel first from left to right then return from right to left along all or part of this wall… as if the wall itself were in motion, like the river below, and the stream of visitors who randomly walk from here to there in dense or single small groups. What sound would be the “right” one for this location and my purpose of moving it in space? “The sound of stones themselves, of course!” and this choice was, as one says, a quick creative blitz which then and there, resulted in a pure and simple concept and structure – a wall of stones sounding of stones! I had in fact recently made of radio piece for Deutschland Radio – “On The Roads” which was largely made from the sounds recorded on old roman basalt-stone roads, of which many – like the Appia Antica in Rome, are close to my own home. It is recordings of these stones, made together by me and my wife Susan Levenstein (more stones)… that I brought to the studio of my trusted sound-designer/musician Luca Spagnoletti…I first made a six minute long performance on a Midi-Keyboard; Luca then created a digital algorithm in Max/Msp which not only moves the sounds in different linear directions but can make them appear randomly at any point on the limited 8 loudspeaker system which were place about 2 or more meters distant covering a total distance of over 30 meters…. so a listener standing or moving in front of this wall, will hear a constanly shifting concert of very sparse to very dense soundings of stones being dropped, all moving in unpredictable patterns from these natural built-in loudspeaker positions – if we would like to imagine, in Wall the Romans themselves may have thought to build 2000 years ago…. of course they did not, but allow us to imagine the impossible and listen to it at the same time.

*Rhinestones in English mean cheap costume jewels, as does bigiotteria in Italian - a most natural play on words.

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