Bonn Hören: Urban Sound Art in Germany – Boston, MA

A Presentation and Panel Discussion

Carsten Seiffarth, curator of bonn hoeren
Sam Auinger, sonic thinker and artist
Bruce Odland, sonic thinker and artist

In the context of the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum’s exhibition “Listen Hear: The Art of Sound”, we highlight Germany’s long-standing activity in and around Sound Art in public spaces.

Sound art as installation art has its own approach to public space. It is site-specific and time-specific art. In other words, the space in all its various dimensions is the basis for the work. And to this dimension belongs sound. This applies equally to installations in interior as well as exterior spaces. In the latter case, the relationships are naturally more complex, as these spaces were not designed per se for art, but meant for daily life with diverse uses and non-uses.

Sound art in public space has a long history, beginning in the early days of sound art in the 1960s. With this awareness of history, bonn hoeren has invited an acclaimed sound artist to work in Bonn annually since 2010. Initiated and financed by the Beethoven Foundation for Art and Culture of Bonn (Beethovenstiftung für Kunst und Kultur der Bundesstadt Bonn), Bonn was the first city worldwide to regularly invite a sound artist for a 6 month residency to create a sound installation in public space. The focus changes each year: past themes have included sound art and urban planning, sound art and the public, sound art and architecture, sound art and landscape and sound and the city. Since 2015 bonn hoeren has worked together with different cultural institutions of the city, for example with the university, the theater, the art museum. The project bonn hoeren will take place yearly until 2020.

Carsten Seiffarth, was born in 1963 in Berlin; orchestral music studies at the franz liszt school of music, weimar (trombone); musicology/sociology studies at the tu berlin. from 1991 on, freelance project work as a curator and producer for sound art and contemporary music. curated numerous solo and group exhibitions, in germany and in other countries, for example, in austria, the netherland, belgium, denmark, romania, luxemburg, slovenia, u.s.a., croatia, norway, mexico. editor of several books, singuhr – hoergalerie, tesla media art lab berlin, paul demarinis, gordon monahan, etc. member of the festival direction “INVENTIONEN“ 2000/02/04/06/08, Berlin. 2005-2007 member of the artistic direction of the media art laboratory tesla in berlin. 2011/2012 artistic director of sound exchange, a project about experimental music cultures in central and eastern europe. since 2010 curator + artistic director “bonn hoeren“, urban sound art in bonn and since 1996 curator + artistic director “singuhr – sound gallery”, since 2014 “singuhr – projects” Berlin.

Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger are sonic thinkers, composers, and sound artists whose central theme is a “Hearing Perspective” of the world we live in. They are known for their large scale, public space sound installations, which transform city noise into harmony in real-time. O+A have been altering the sonic identity of public spaces with large scale installations since their first resonance installation in Trajan’s forum in Rome, “Traffic Mantra” in 1991. They generate harmony from the chaos of urban noise with “tuning tubes” and specially designed loudspeakers. They have created over 30 such works, both temporary and permanent around the world. Starting in 2009 O+A began to focus on the idea of a “Sonic Commons”, questioning the dominance of the visual culture in our perception of the world. O + A ‘s latest work Harmonic Conduit, which transforms noise into harmony at the busy urban transportation hub of Boston’s Ruggles Station, is featured in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s group exhibition Listen Hear: The Art of Sound. The Installation opens in early May 2017 and runs through September.