A Hidden Place of Unheard Sounds: Experiencing Sound Art at Monom
When all the nightlife hit the pause button a few months ago, we really had to completely rethink our Berlin experience. This was particularly noticeable to us when we gathered our event lists. Suddenly the calendar was empty, then slowly it was filling up with streaming events again, and eventually the IRL events came back, but not in the same way as before.
The sound installation “Eleven Songs” which took place in Halle am Berghain a few weeks ago was one of those events that stood out: thanks to its emblematic location, it fulfilled the desire for a return of club culture and our desire for a cultural and artistic experience. It was, as you might expect, a huge success.
But this is actually not the only event that focused on sound as an art form. For months, the Sound Sculptures series of events has been taking place at the Monom, a very special place at Funkhaus Nalepastraße. We’ve heard of this place before, even tried going there once, but it took the quiet period after the lockdown for us to finally take the time to venture out again and take a closer look – or better – careful listening.
Monom is home to a very special speaker system designed by 4DSOUND System. To call it a speaker system is actually an understatement – in fact, it’s an instrument, and the 48 speakers set up in a columnar formation are actually just one part of it. The instrument was designed to explore the possibilities of spatial sound. As part of a residency program, sound artists are able to compose pieces at Monom taking full advantage of innovative technology. The aforementioned series of events made these pieces available to the public in special listening sessions that take place in complete darkness.
During our visit, the veil was lifted for us and we were able to see Monom and the 4DSOUND system in broad daylight. It’s an impressive setup with industrial grid columns that remind you more of elaborate club decoration than speakers. We were able to listen to excerpts from several of the artists’ pieces. It was certainly a mind blowing experience as the sound was unlike anything you have heard before and it moves around you like an object that defies the laws of physics. Describing what I heard is really difficult. It’s not music, it’s not sound effects either, it’s acoustic art. You absolutely have to take your time and let it flow over you and try to let go of your expectations of a “listening session”.
One song that particularly struck me was “Lost Spaces: Rainforests” by William Russell. It is what he describes as a documentary of a fictional nature. It’s a hypnotic soundscape of superimposed jungle sounds mixed with vocals, man-made sounds, and even music, which manages to tell an understandable story just through sound. It is very impressive and moving – a strong statement about the environmental crisis in which we live.
If you are now curious about this special experience, I recommend checking out one of their upcoming events. This weekend there will be another Sound Sculptures event. On Saturday and Sunday there will be five 2 hour sessions starting at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. for which you can book tickets here. Due to covid measures, only a few people are allowed per session, so book your tickets quickly! After each of these sessions, the public will be taken to the lounge where they can have a drink and chat. We hope to see you there!
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