"The Karnau Tapes" is a novel by German writer Marcel Beyer. It tells the story of a fanatical acoustician of the Nazi era who strives to record a map of all possible human utterances and, in his efforts, even doesn't hesitate to experiment with prisoners of concentration camps. His endeavors finally lead him into the Führerbunker where he records the last words of the daughters of Joseph Goebbels. Karnau's totalitarian acoustics are a crucial aspect of Marcel Beyer's novel that this radio play tries to translate. The "un-musical" score consists of atmospheres of old worn-out tapes and phonograph records, bat sounds, distorted voices and the imagined primal sound of the skull's bone seam. First broadcast of the radio play on May, 5th, 2013 on SWR2. After the broadcast the radio play can be streamed as usual for a week on the website of SWR2. Suhrkamp has also released a graphic novel based on Beyer's "The Karnau Tapes" last month, so there is a chance for a true crossmedia experience, as long as you understand German... » more
Chronostasis at Mannheim Airport 28.03.2013
My piece chronostasis will be played at the Jetztmusikfestival in Mannheim on April, 1st, 2013. The location is quite special: it is the entrance hall of the Mannheim airport, from where you can look over the runway. The event is accompanied by live visuals of Heidelberg artist Plong aka Dominik Rinnhofer. Everybody at the show will be provide with a download code for a revised version of the piece on my new Bandcamp page.
My first audio-visual work: Eolo originated in a lot of time lapse video recordings I did in 2010 on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands. There, steady winds drive fields of clouds over the volcanic mountains forcing them into movements of sometimes opposite directions. Together with the sparse vegetation of pine-trees and the dark lava ground, the fast moving wisps of clouds generate a fascinating visual display. For the italian netlabel Galaverna, I set the video to a canon sung by German vocalist Almut Kühne. Her voice is subtly warped with wind like effects that lead to a haunting atmosphere. The song is available as a free download at the Galaverna website. You can also download the video at my site on Vimeo.
I've spent some time thinking about the future of radio play in the digital age recently. On the occassion of a festival about the future of radio "Radio Zukunft. Tage der Audiokunst" at Berlin's Akademie der Künste from March, 7th to 10th 2013, I wrote an essy called "Radio plays in a networked age", in which I propose 10 theses on the future of acoustic storytelling. I will present some of those ideas on Friday, 8th, in a panel together with Heiko Martens called "Digitales Manifest" at 14:55 at Akademie der Künste. Then on Saturday, 9th, at 14:00 I will speak with the editor of Deutschlandradio Kultur, Ingo Kottkamp, and media scientist Golo Föllmer about my radio feature "Pasted! We are the future of music". The talk will revolve around transformative works in music such as mashups and remixes, but also about the way I enrolled the feature on the internet with the help of some blogs - a strategy I would call "transmedia storytelling" (you can hear the talk here). It will also be the first time that the audience can see and hear the webplayer I developed for the radio play with the help of programmer Sebastian Hilger of 7talents. The according website www.pasted-radio.de will finally be online soon. » more
The digitization made music fluid: everybody today can remix music and reach a potential audience of millions. It was never easier to participate in the cultural production, but at the same time to get into conflict with copyright laws. The radio feature "Pasted! We are the future of music" looks at so called transformative works such as mashups and remixes and investigates how our image of originality, authorship and intellectual property are challenged by the digitization.
Currently I'm working on a webplayer for the radio feature. More infos are on their way and from April on you can listen to the radio piece her (with German narrative, of course):
Premiere of "Tschick" at Hamburg Planetarium 03.10.2011
The radio play "Tschick" after Wolfgang Herrndorfs novel is premiered on 4th October 2011 at Hamburg Planetarium. It's worth a visit: the story is funny and melancholic (I wrote about it already...), the main characters are played by young, upcoming actors and the soundtrack is a mixture of comical percussion and indie guitars. I included some unusual instruments as well such as a musical saw (played by Katharina Micada), jews harp, cuicha and others. The actual radio broadcast follows on 16th October at 21:05 on NDR Kultur.
"Alter Finne" , right now I'm working on the music for the radioplay adaption of the German best-selling novel "Tschick" by Wolfgang Herrndorf. It is a beautiful, humorous and melancholic book about two young boys stealing a Lada and traveling through the east-German countryside. A sample translation by Jefferson Chase can be found here, I hope it preserves the subtle tone of Herrndorfs prose. While working on the book, Herrndorf got seriously ill. He writes about it in his blog - if someone is capable of reading German: I hardly know anybody who deals with his own fate in such a truthful and genuine way. The radioplay will be premiered on 16th October at NDR Kultur. » more
The disillusioned story of a young woman who gets pregnant for the first time with 15 and gives birth to a handicapped child. The radioplay depicts the hardship of the young womans live, of growing up in a violent family, of being raped by her best friends and her kids been taken away by youth welfare service. First broadcast of the radioplay with Julia Hummer as lead actor on Saarländischer Rundfunk 2 on 25. August at 18:00. » more
Landscapes and Soundscapes from Gardens of Mindspace 18.08.2011
This week in Berlins Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the Festival “Über Lebenskunst” takes place with a performance night called “Walden” on 19th August. I was invited to put a collection of sound art and field recording pieces together for the lounge area of the Festival in the Theater Saal. BJ Nilsen will play a live set, the film “Sound Aspects of Material Elements” by John Grzenich will be shown along with photographic and filmic works by Andrea Gjestvang, Iveta Vaivode and Arne Maavik. Our programme is called “Landscapes and Soundscapes from Gardens of Mindspace” and starts around 21:30 with my piece “Frost Pattern” played in 5.1 surround. From the programme notes:
As if to set against the drop in biodiversity, there is a new tendency of revivalism in contemporary art aiming to maintain and update the variety of traditional genres once flourishing around the academic landscape painting. Whether pastoral or georgic, heroic or picturesque, in the context of the current environmental issues the classical landscape genres are regaining their political notion. Reshaped from purely aesthetic categories into practical tools of social activism and politically motivated contemplation, these genres provide their rich art-historical legacy to remind that landscapes are cultural concepts before they are nature. Contemporary art explores landscape as a construct of imagination projected onto wood, water and rock. It is an introspective sightseeing in the social mindspace, where attention is paid not only to the picturesque, but also to conceptual landslides and ideological floods, since the real world ecological crises are firstly due to destructive habits of thought – they are a by‑product of culture.
“Landscapes and Soundscapes from Gardens of Mindspace” is a programme put together of art-works exploring landscape aesthetics in relevance to wider environmental awareness. Built up as an all night long nature trail through pastoral sceneries and ambient soundscapes, the programme for the lounge area of “Walden Night” festival consists of video‑art screenings and slide-shows, a live performance by sound and recording artist BJ Nilsen, and Andreas Bick’s retrospective overview on sound‑art experiments based on field‑recording materials by artists like Jacob Kirkegaard, Francisco Lopez, Eric La Casa, Yannick Dauby, Chris Watson and others.
With his band "Die Helden", singer Jojo wants to make it big. It is 1979, Punk just emerged. Jojo and the others travel to France to record an album. It's the life he always dreamed of: sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. But after some days the mood changes and tension arises between band mates and friends. The dreams of this short summer end in a disaster. What lasts are Jojo's journals and the memories of those who were with the band during their short career. "Nothing will last, we were only a waste of time" is one of the final notes in Jojo's journal. It is the story of unfulfilled dreams and youthful hubris which was probably true for so many forgotten bands of that time.
The radio play airs Monday, 13th June 2011, on WDR3 at 23:05 and Tuesday, 14th June, on 1LIVE at 23:00. After the broadcast the radio play can be downloaded for a week on the webpages of WDR3 and 1LIVE. » more
A radio play written by Silvia Kabus. Premiere at HörTheater in frannz-Club Berlin 17. April 2011. » more
"House of Leaves" wins German audiobook award 21.03.2011
The WDR-production "House of Leaves" wins the German Hörbuchpreis in the category "the special audiobook / best adaption". Thejurywrote about the audiobook:
Just movedin, the new house starts to tremble and eerie things grow from underneath. Danielewski's cult novel combinesthisbasicnightmarewith quotationsfromDanteto Derrida. ThomasBoehm transforms the topo- andtypographic text-labyrinth into an acousticexpedition. Theconcentratedhorroroffragmentsand questionmarks are distributed over three layers attracting interactive zapping. The listenerbecomesan adventureron thehunt forthe blood-red thread.
Since 20 years, instead of a functional government Somalia is ruled by islamic militia. All international attempts to stabilize the country have failed or even produced more problems. Most recently in summer 2010, 1000 policemen went underground that were trained and armed with German money. Is there any hope for Somalia? This ARD radiofeature by Bettina Rühl investigates the actual situation in the African country.
On 21st Nov. 1811, the German poet Heinrich von Kleist was found dead at Berlins Wannsee. Obviously he had committed suicide together with Henriette Vogel, but the circumstances of their death remain mysterious untill today. The documentary "Die Akte Kleist" inquires into the frantic life and strange death of Heinrich von Kleist, who still is considered one of Germany's most eminent writers and dramatists. Arte is broadcasting the film on 28th March and RBB follows on 21st. Nov., the 200th anniversary of his death. Further information here.
I'm happy to make the essay "On Trees and Sounds" available here for the first time. I wrote the text for the July/August 2010 issue of the German magazine "Neue Zeitschrift for Musik". It takes the old question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”, credited to George Berkeley, as a starting point to reflect on various ways to define the term sound. » more
In 2010 Ismal Ivo was commissioned by Paestum Festival of Naples in Italy with the foundation of a modern dance company under the name "Les Danseurs Napolitains". During a longer workshop in March, 14 dancers were chosen from about 30 candidates coming from Naples or the surrounding region (a video in Italien about the audition can be seen here). In the middle of June rehearsals for the choreography "Le Sacre du Printemps" started until the premiere on 16 July in front of the world famous temples of Paestum. 3 more shows were given, among others one in Pompeii's Teatro Grande. For the choreography I was asked to write an introduction for Stravinsyi's music which is only about 30 min. long. The first scene - we called it the "honey scene" - demanded a magical music which should refer to a text of Vergil's "Georgics" where he already mentioned Paestum about 2000 years ago and where he described the life of bees as a role model for human community. I turned a passage of this text into a canon for female choir and counter tenor of which an excerpt can be heard above. The voice of the counter tenor belongs to Martin Wölfel, the female choir was sung by Almut Kühne. The second piece of music, "insect invasion", consists of various insect calls and noises from crickets, cicadas, bees and others, they are accompanied by percussion instruments as well as cello and violin. With the beginning of Stravinsky's "Sacre" rose petals rain on the stage, the impressive scenography and the majestic background of the Ceres temple can also been viewed in this photostream. » more
In March 2010 the Belgian internet radio SilenceRadio.org asked me to compose a piece for the relaunch of their website. At that time I was interested in how sounds could be mirrored in other sounds and how the meaning of sounds shifts depending on context. The title of the piece – “A Pot Calling The Kettle Black” – is an old English phrase already found in works by Cervantes and Shakespeare that is still used today to refer to hypocrisy. The idiom can be interpreted as follows: A pot is sooty from being placed on an open fire, while a kettle, being placed on coals, remains clean and shiny. The pot only sees its own sooty reflection in the shiny surface of the kettle and accuses it of being black, a property that only belongs to the pot itself. » more
I'm happy to announce that my radioplay after Roland Barthes' famous book is finally finished and will be broadcast on March 19 at 11:05 pm at German public radio WDR3. Roland Barthes died 30 years ago after a car accident in Paris. "A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments" is possibly one of the most ambitious and intelligent texts on the philosophy of passionate love, still of great relevance just as before. In this radio adaption I superimposed his glossary of love with Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther", Barthes' principle witness and supplier of keywords for passionate love. Thanks to outstanding performances by the actors Sebastian Blomberg, Ludwig Trepte and Hannah Herzsprung and with the help of a lot of friends and the people of Berlin providing words for the definitions of Barthes' "figures of thought" I hope we can follow the racing minds of lovers in an unusual and fascinating radioplay. For both Barthes and Goethe, the lover is someone who stands outside society. He lives in an “unreal” world, in an illusion that becomes his truth, while what other people call “reality” he experiences as an illusion. “Love is blind: the proverb is false. Love opens its eyes wide, love produces clear-sightedness. […] What the world takes for ‘objective’, I regard as factitious; and what the world regards as madness, illusion, error, I take for truth.” (Roland Barthes) » more
"Das Haus" voted radio play of the month 29.05.2010
The German Akademie der Darstellenden Künste voted the WDR-production "Das Haus (House of Leaves)" the best radio play of December 2009. The jury wrote: "The three directors and composers developed an acoustic aesthetic for everything that is tempting and threatening. As long as the ear can reach it is whimpering and rumbling in an endless loop of horror. A radio play for the remote control? Yes, but not only. The experimental play reflects in one and the other way existential challenges. The listener becomes an adventurer searching for lost pieces of a central theme."