Oliver Schneller

Polis. Istanbul – Cairo – Jerusalem – Beirut

© Oliver Schneller

Sound installation

Polis. Istanbul – Cairo – Jerusalem – Beirut

Sat 16 to Sun 24 March 2013

8-channel soundscape montage (2008-2009)

Sound Installation

The central idea of the installation was to produce the illusion of being able to be in four places at once - to listen to four geographically separate locations simultaneously: 11:00 am in Cairo, 11:00 am in Beirut, 11:00 am in Jerusalem, and 11:00 am in Istanbul. The chronologically based synchronization of the individual recordings yielded many staggering coincidences:

A technician’s sound check before a concert at the Place des Martyrs in Beirut coinciding with the signal of a cargo ship sounding its horn while entering Istanbul harbor, colliding with the hum of traffic in Downtown Cairo and an ambulance siren recorded at Mount of Olives just outside the old city of Jerusalem. This artificial texture immediately raised numerous questions of urban cultural sonic identity, the impact of architectural and geographic conditions on the acoustic environment of cities, the degree of acoustic presence of religious symbols such as the Muezzin, the ringing of church bells, or the chant of a nearby Talmud School. Some sounds, such as the rumble of thick traffic or the voices of people in the streets, were almost identical in each city. Other sounds, such as a sea-side amusement park in Beirut, or the resonant acoustics of the vast interior of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, were unique and characteristic of one place. Within this acoustic tapestry constantly varying spaces, stories and scenarios briefly open up like windows, momentarily revealing glimpses of human activity.

Commissioned work as part of “Taswir – Pictorial Mappings of Islam and Modernity” – an exhibition by ha’atelier Plattform für Philosophie und Kunst, Berliner Festspiele / Martin-Gropius-Bau, 05-11-2009 to 18-01-2010