– symbiotic perspectives in sound, art and nature
The growing global awareness of an ecological crisis and environmental collapse in conjunction with the recent corona pandemic demands new positions and definitions in human-nature relationships. FIREFLY asks how artistic projects can face nature from this current point of view. Artists from several fields are invited to test speculative perspectives while eschewing the hierarchizing dichotomy between society and nature in order to give nature a new status.
With sound installations, concerts of experimental electronic music and a garden radio, the artists explore the rainwater retention basin of the former Tempelhof airfield at Floating
University. As a forgotten, unsupervised space for over 60 years, a diverse range of animals, plants and algae have taken over to form a third landscape: a man-made environment reclaimed by nature, susceptible to biological diversity. For FIREFLY, artistic projects weave their ways through this semi-natural ’room of indecision’.
Discover the terrain and bring your rubber boots or borrow some on site!
13 – 19h
Felicity Mangan: Amphi’theater
Ana Maria Rodriguez: Only for one day
Stefanie Loveday: Landfall, Collapse (video installation)
17 – 21h
Datscha Radio: Fluctuations
19:30h JD Zazie:
Goldilocks Zone (turntable, CD)
20:30h Pascal Arnold, Christoph Brünggel & Benny Jaberg:
Still und Dunkel
Felicity Mangan: Amphi’theater (sound installation)
The title Amphi’theater plays with the word amphitheatre, an arena that was traditionally designed with tiered seating for the performance of plays during ancient Greek and Roman times, as well as the word amphibians, meaning animals that can live on both land and water. Frogs create natural symphonies during mating rituals utilizing auditory functions such as call and response, silence and movement; they send sounds through the air, water and substrate (plants and fungus). The piece explores the bio-rhythms of frog calls recorded in different semi-natural ecosystems in Berlin, that have been altered and influenced by both the impact of humans and nature over time, providing unique bio-acoustic qualities. Since frogs are more often heard then seen because of their size and nocturnal behaviour, Mangan recreates this listening experience by submerging the technical equipment for her installation behind the long reeds within the semi-natural state of the Floating University site.
Felicity Mangan is an Australian sound artist and composer based in Berlin, Germany since 2008. In different situations such as solo performance, collaborative projects with other musicians or installation, Felicity plays her found native Australian wildlife archive and other field recordings, either through a stereophonic system or often via hand-made speakers made with piezo transducers and found objects. In her work, she explores the timbre and forms of found and self-recorded animal voices while mimicking biophonic patterns to create minimal quasi-bioacoustic environments. Mangan has released a solo publication on Longform Editions titled Stereo’frog’ic and a tape titled ‘Creepy Crawly’ on Mappa Editions. She has presented projects in many different settings from galleries, gardens, clubs and festivals throughout Europe, including National Gallery Denmark, Technosphärenklänge CTM/HKW and Sonic Act Academy 2020.
Ana Maria Rodriguez: Only for one day (sound installation, new work)
»Only for one day« – Ana Maria Rodriguez’ second work on the subject of human/environment-relationships – translates and abstracts environmental processes. The composer exclusively uses synthesized sounds inspired by field recordings of bee sounds, which play a key role in the bees’ bidirectional communication system with the environment, especially with the flowers. Through the artificial reconstruction of field recordings – compared to using recordings of bee sounds directly – Rodriguez gains a profound and poetic understanding of these natural sound systems. Her methodology is also considered a statement in that she wants to treat nature with respect without using it for her own purposes. While the loudspeaker setup enables a more nuanced listening, additional transducers or bass shakers set the wooden structure of the space into vibration and thus link the artificial bee sounds directly with the installation’s surrounding environment.
Ana Maria Rodriguez is a composer that links the spontaneity of improvisation with fully composed scores. She studied composition, piano, history, and philosophy in Buenos Aires. She moved to Barcelona to study electronic music and algorithmic composition at Phonos Studios. In 1993 the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (Germany) invited her to develop several audio projects for its Artificial Intelligence faculty. Since this time Rodriguez has composed many pieces, concert installations, mixed media, or music theater works for a wide range of instruments using live-electronics and computer technology. In 2005 she founded the women-only ensemble Les Femmes Savantes in which Rodriguez performs as an object, keyboard, and laptop player. She collaborated with many artists from different genres like Melita Dahl, Andreas Köpnick, Joanna Rajkowska (video), and the poet Ron Winkler. Ana Maria Rodiguez’s works have been performed at major festivals throughout Europe and abroad including: Berlin in Lights (Carnegie Hall NYC), Brückenmusik Köln, Chiffren‑Biennale Kiel, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Foro International de Música Nueva Mexico City, Forum Neuer Musik (DLF Köln), and Heroines of Sound Festival Berlin. Ana Maria Rodriguez lives and works in Berlin.
Stefanie Loveday: Landfall, Collapse (video installation)
In her video installation »Landfall, Collapse«, Stefanie Loveday reinterprets the manufactured landscape of an opencast coal mine in what is now Cottbuser Ostsee, Germany. The work examines the temporal nature of the mine as a site of changing geography: the erasure of a rural town for the purpose of geological extraction, and the current process of »re-naturing« the site as a lake destination for local tourism. Drawing from the transformation of the human-altered landscape, the work re-creates the environment in abstracted, digital and artificial forms through two video projections: one of the material landscape (»Landfall«) and the second of a digital rendering (»Collapse«). The videos are projected onto discarded building materials resembling rocky debris; they fragment the projected landscape, mirroring the effects of mined earth. »Landfall« uses a drone to show the open pit from above. The slow and fluid camera movements show abstract patterns and excavation markings that look like a gigantic earthwork drawing. From this perspective, the video mimics the views of landscapes documented by satellite imagery. »Collapse« examines the same mine using a Google Earth VR recording. This presents an artificial version of the same landscape created by digital mapping of satellite imagery. The resulting rendering artifacts are measured in the video as virtual geological features, further abstracting the landscape.
Stefanie Loveday is a Swiss-Canadian visual and media artist working in Berlin, Germany. Her works use abstraction and fragmentation as tools to reimagine landscapes. Exploring conjunctions between simulated and real environments, she combines fictional geological artifacts with natural and constructed terrains. These new territories question our perception of them and point at sociological, environmental and political conflicts. Stefanie Loveday obtained her Bachelor of Media Arts from Emily Carr University and her Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, USA in 2011. She received several awards (The Leon and Thea Koerner Award in Fine and Performing Arts and the Helen Pitt Award) and artist residencies (Goethe Institut Macedonia, Programa Red de Residencies Artísticas LOCAL Colombia and Xenoform Labs San Francisco, USA).
Datscha Radio: Fluctuations (radio programme)
The radio artists Gabi Schaffner, Helen Thein, Kate Donovan and Niki Matita investigate the Firefly festival and the unusual biotopes of the Floating University in radiophonic expeditions. Through interventions on-site with listening stations and in conversation with the artists, Datscha Radio explores the ways of life and survival strategies of nature in a world shaped by humans. At times an idyllic lake, a dried up wasteland, a swampland the size of a football field - the water retention basin of Tempelhofer Feld fluctuates between effective area and dreamscape, biomass and place of retreat.
Datscha Radio is a Berlin radio art initiative that has been active since 2012, which is committed to expanding the culture of radio-making and our perceptions of the world. It is non-commercial, nomadic and transdisciplinary. Datscha Radio uses the medium of radio to create new listening experiences which transcend the typical dichotomies of culture/nature and transmitter/receiver. The departure point and site of agency is ‘the garden’ – a universal metaphor for social coexistence, ecological considerations and cultural knowledge. Datscha Radio is a transient, project-oriented collective established by radio artist, ethnographer and author Gabi Schaffner, and has been hosted at various locations around the world. As of 2017, the Berlin production team includes radio artists Kate Donovan and Niki Matita, and publicist Helen Thein.
JD ZAZIE: Goldilocks Zone (live concert, new work)
Climate change doesn’t just shift weather patterns. It can force the migration of plants, people, animals, bugs — and diseases as those carried by tropical mosquitos Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Inside an Aedes mosquito, viruses take time to develop, requiring »Goldilocks« range of temperatures (21,3° – 29,4 °C) — not too cold, and not too hot. Outside of that temperature range, a presumably infected mosquito could bite a person and no virus would be transmitted. Mosquito, is also the name of a social control sonic device used in public space which consists in the emission of some disturbing ultrasound frequencies (19-20 kHz) audible only by a segment of the population (mainly young people) to drive it away from specific places, reduce crowds, limit vandalism. The piece »Goldilocks Zone«, mainly created with mosquitos sounds, aims to use mosquitos as metaphor to stimulate a reflection on the consequences of climate change, on the possibility of an increase in viruses and pandemics in the coming years and on consequent measures to contain them, which in some states may become an opportunity to experiment with forms of limitation of civil and democratic rights on the pretext of saving lives.
Valeria Merlini aka JD ZAZIE is a sound artist, experimental turntablist, and DJ, living between Berlin and Bolzano. Coming from a DJ and a radiophonic background, JD Zazie has explored over the years different approaches to real-time manipulation of fixed recorded sound. As a solo performer, in small groups, or large ensembles, she moves in an area which is constantly stretching the borders of what is supposed to be DJ mixing, free improvisation, or composed music. Intended as music instruments turntables, CDJs, and mixer are her tools for mixing the specific sound-sources she plays. In her sound installations she explores everyday life, refers to urbanism, and relates to sound atmospheres. She is the art director of »MuseRuole – women in experimental music« festival and member of the Burp Enterprise collective. She also broadcasts monthly on colaboradio and on Reboot.fm. She has participated in numerous exhibitions and events including Simultan festival (RU) and Berlin Atonal (DE).
Benny Jaberg, Christoph Brünggel & Pascal Arnold: Still und Dunkel
(audiovisual live concert)
The Swiss artists Benny Jaberg, Christoph Brünggel and Pascal Arnold are attracted to abandoned spaces – set apart from the familiar world, far from cozy homes and bustling streets: Places overgrown with moss, fallen ceilings, vestiges left behind by humans, teeming insects and trees growing in buildings. Here – where some things and beings have long ceased to exist while new life is reclaiming the void – a self-restored sense of balance between nature and culture might be found. Threatened by their superfluity for society, such places have a specific transformative quality. Conceived in a precarious, continuous state of change, they are doomed to die, but they remain in a fleeting stagnation for some time. The artists examine the abandoned buildings and their phenomenological appearance on their potential to save time. It is their suggestive calm that radiates upon them, causing them to pause to trace the present, to remember the past, or to imagine it, and to paint a future. The trio explores and documents a human-made place that has been untouched for some time. These places include a dilapidated psychiatric hospital in Berlin, a condemned Geological Institute in Belgrade or a former waste incineration plant in Rotterdam. After working on-site, acoustic field recordings are incorporated into electronic music specially composed for the project, and newly filmed material is combined with material from the archive. They place emphasis on the parallel between the acoustic limitations of the sound – whether electronic sounds or in situ field recordings – and the chosen limitation of black and white. During the live performance, the places melt into one utopian space; united in decay, the similarities between the original places outgrow their differences.
STILL UND DUNKEL is a collaboration between filmmaker Benny Jaberg, visual artist/musician Christoph Brünggel and new media artist/vj Pascal Arnold.
Documentation of the performance at FIREFLY with new audiovisual material recorded from Flugplatz Schönwalde:
Lilienthalstr. 32, 10965 Berlin
U7 Südstern (+ 5-10 min walk)
Photo © Stefanie Loveday
Artistic Director Dr. Karin Weissenbrunner
Audio Engineer Jasmine Guffond
Graphic Design Roman Karrer
More pictures by Udo Siegfriedt are here.