Sonifications – Audible Data Streams, Berlin 27.- 29.10.2017

The Berlin Society of New Music presents the festival Sonifications

Villa Elisabeth, Invalidenstraße 4a, 10115 Berlin

How does a pulsar sound? What noises are made at night by a dreaming human brain? What might we hear when New York guitarist Hans Tammen sonifies his own DNA data live on stage during his „Endangered Guitar“? How does a Swiss Alpine panorama transform into a concert soundscape?

Technically speaking, sonification refers to the process of making data audible. Its historical roots date back to the time of Pythagoras, who used acoustic experiments on a monochord to demonstrate mathematical relationships. With the advent of digital interfaces and coding, sonification developed rapidly in music as an acoustic counterpart to visualization in the arts. Since the mid-1980s, new trends emerged bringing forth a broad spectrum of artistic production, often in collaboration with scientific practice and theory.

At this point, it is no longer a technical problem to sonify non-musical processes, such as ocean currents, or share prices, as a form of artistically representing scientific data. Instead, the more critical question has shifted to, at what point does an object of artistic-scientific research become an artefact? How can the arts complete the logical next step of using the physical experience of data to establish a new relationship to reality for listeners? What criteria determine aesthetic content and make a work based on sonification its own independent musical work?

The three day festival Sonifications – Audible Data Streams presented by the Berlin Society of New Music, explores these questions between Friday 27th and Sunday 29th of October 2017 in the Villa Elisabeth, Berlin, presenting a selection of current sonification strategies: compositions, sound installations and performances of outstanding artistic merit.

Special attention is given to live experience – the direct, sensory experience of sonification. For this, the festival offers an impressive line-up of concerts and performances.

The Berlin Society for New Music commissioned compositions exclusively for the festival through an open call for works of „Percussion / drums / objects with or without live electronics“, „1 – 4 strings with or without live electronics“ and „live electronics with a maximum of 8 loudspeakers”.


The selected pieces for „Percussion / drums / objects with or without live electronics“ are the real-time sonifications „From Cloud To Fog“ (Goldox, Guffond, Heissmeyer) and the premiere of „Listening Back“ (Guffond), which can be heard from 8pm on October 27. Solo performances by Hans Tammen, Åsa Stjerna, and Ricardo Climent are live the same evening. The 3D-data solo dance performance „Embodiment of WiFi Traffic“ by Japanese choreographer and dancer Tomoko Mio, based on Jutta Ravenna’s data sound window, can be seen for the first time on this Friday and at two additional performances during the festival.

A special highlight awaits audiences Saturday night at 8pm. The internationally renowned Berlin Kairos Quartet will be premiering works designed through the call: „Dérive“ (for string quartet and live electronics) by Lula Romero and „Resolution“ by Luc Döbereiner (for cello, transducer and live electronics).
In addition, the Kairos Quartet will be preforming two pieces from their own repertoire by Iannis Xenakis and Julio Estrada. The legendary Fluxus artist Terry Fox will be honored in a grand closing of the second festival day. Seeing the Berlin wall from his studio window at the beginning of the 1980s, Fox created „a sound map, a score, a kind of audible geography of this structure“. Arnold Dreyblatt interpreted and realized an instrumental version of „Berlin Wall Scored for Sound“ for string quartet, which will be played by the Kairos Quartet.

As well, on the Sunday, truly classic works of sonication can be experienced: „Panorama“ and „Copied Lines“ by Alvin Lucier. „Panorama“ from 1993, dedicated to Swiss composer and trombone player Roland Dahinden, is based on sonifying a drawing of a panorama of alpine mountain woods, as seen from the Swiss city train. Lucier derived frequencies from mountain heights and durations from their distances. The alpine silhouette is translated to the pitch range of a trombone. „Copied Lines“ is Lucier’s revision of „Panorama“ from 2011, again for trombone, but with 13 strings rather than piano. Performed by Roland Dahinden and the ensemble Junge Streicher of the music school Berlin-Pankow.

In addition – as a Swiss special – the improvisations „free lines_one“ and „free lines_two“ will be performed by Roland Dahinden (trombone), his constant piano accompanist Hildegard Kleeb, and Alexandre Babel on drums.
Swiss performance artist Mio Chareteau closes the concert in an extraordinary way with „White Piece“. On the borderlines of still life, minimalist music and careful performance, Chareteau designed a piece for piano and 150 white paper cards, in which pianist Hildegard Kleeb produces sound without even touching her instrument.

Along with this extensive concert and performance program, the festival investigates the aesthetic content of sonification through a program of discourse.
Germany radio editor Marcus Gammel, who has done great service to the topic for years through his program series „Sonarisationen“ discusses the role of sonification as an interface between science and art, with guests Werner Cee, Sukandar Kartadinata, Dr. Thomas Hermann, Rodrigo Pérez-Garcia and Prof. Alberto de Campo. As a live act, sound artist Cee and instrument maker Kartadinata make „KLIMA | ANLAGE” which offers a sensory experience of climate change.

A subsequent panel, also moderated by Marcus Gammel, brings us even further into compositional aspects of sonication with: „Sonification as extending compositional means: Sonification-Interfaces as Instrument?“ Participants are: sound artists Åsa Stjerna, Jasmine Guffond and Marcus Schmickler, as well as sonification experts Prof. Florian Dombois and Prof. Volker Straebel.

A further panel on Sunday will be devoted to artistic dimensions of sonification. After a Keynote by Prof. Marc Bangert and Julian Klein, panel members Hans Tammen, Ricardo Climent, Julian Klein and Prof. Stefan Weinzierl discuss: „Sonification versus Composition“. Moderation: Prof. Michael Harenberg.

Beyond the live performances, concerts and panels, there are further offerings for the audience: Additionally to five sound installations that will be freely accessible throughout the festival (YoHa, „Lungs – Slave Labour“, Florian Dombois, “Circum Pacific 5.1”, Julian Klein, „Brain Study”, Martin Hachmann “Fear” and Jutta Ravenna’s interactive data sound window „SesameSesame“), there will be a sound cabinet with materials about Terry Fox’s work „Berlino“, and a soundbar with a commented listening program, including the sonification of comet 76P / Chryumov-Gerasimenko by Manuel Senfft. The „ZKM-Selection“ of the festival partner Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe presents its own examples of outstanding sonification art, including Marcus Schmickler’s „Bonn Patternisation“ from 2012 and Ludger Brümmer’s „Spin“ from 2014.
Artistic direction: Jutta Ravenna Program book: Julia H. Schröder Design: cyan Marketing: k3 berlin – Kontor für Kultur und Kommunikation Head of production: Vilém Wagner Organizer: Berlin Society of New Music

The details of the program / lineup:



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