Public Space, Berlin
Sound Safari was first held in 2022 as a participatory public workshop on Martinstag, which is celebrated each year in Germany on 11th November. Traditionally, Martinstag is observed in the acts of creating homemade paper lanterns (housing tealights) and walking in procession through the neighborhood at night. Though its historical context is Catholic, Martinstag for Berliners is viewed in a more secular way and is often referred to as Laternenfest (Lantern Festival). It is a celebration of hope and generosity in hard times (the winter), represented by light in the darkness.
It is within this context - a context in which light is accepted as a metaphor for good - that we lent our ears and eyes to the city at night in order to become more aware of the presence and effects of urban street and commercial lighting. As a group, we explored the neighborhood according to our desire to listen to, and categorize, different sources of light. We learned about the effects of light pollution on human health, biodiversity, our urban environment, and changing climate, as well as our ability to view the stars.
Though we, as humans, are sensitive to so much - spectrums of light perceived through the eye, sonic frequencies received in the eardrum, various forces felt and interpreted on the surface of the skin and throughout our fleshy bodies - there is also much of the natural and the digital that we simply cannot pick up on. So much information we have no capacity to receive or translate. But by tuning our ears to subtle changes in sound that are imperceivable merely through sight, we are able to define and categorise light in a new way. Instead of just seeing the light which brightens our cities at night, we can listen to it. In doing so, we are given the unique opportunity to become more aware of the presence of artificial light and the space that it occupies.
But, as the hijackers of these invisible waves, we also are charged with the responsibility of broadcasting the message.
So, what do you hear?
Photographer: Izzy Dempsey
This project has received funding from:
Neustart Kultur + Stiftung Kunstfonds
Caius Reza & Noel Png