The sound experience which I prefer to all others is the experience of silence. And the silence, almost everywhere in the world now is traffic. If you listen to Beethoven or to Mozart, you see that they are always the same. But if you listen to traffic, you see it’s always different.
John Cage (Quoted after Verena Zollinger, Architektur & Raum – John Cage und die Stille)
To know whether or not art is contemporary, we no longer use aesthetic criteria (if it’s destroyed by shadows, spoiled by ambient sounds); (assuming these) we use social criteria: can include action on the part of others.
John Cage (A Year From Monday, Middletown, CT 1969, pp. 58-9)
Kunsttunnel (“Art Tunnel”) Augsburg is a project by the local community volunteer network Bündnis für Augsburg (www.buendnis.augsburg.de
). Inaugurated in 2003, the project has turned Pferseer Unterführung, a street underpass with lots of traffic beneath the tracks of Augsburg’s main railway station, into a showcase for graffiti art and murals. To provide an acoustic enhancement to the noisy surroundings, music by Mozart had been broadcast round the clock since 2003 in the then separate pedestrian tube of the tunnel on a multi-speaker sound system designed and built by Wolfgang F. Lightmaster and operated in a closet at the centre of the tunnel. When the wall that used to separate the pedestrian path from the car traffic in the road was torn down in 2012, the acoustics of the tunnel changed, and Mozart was practically drowned out by the traffic except in very quiet hours of the night.
This is why in the autumn of 2012, a new daytime sound exhibit for Kunsttunnel was developed. This installation called “Private Transport” by Gerald Fiebig and Alexander “Poembeat” Möckl was inaugurated in November 2012. It makes use of the existing sound system, but works with the traffic noise instead of against it, a method pioneered in 1977 by Max Neuhaus’s sound installation “Times Square” at the New York location of the same name.
Fiebig and Möckl developed a drone sound based on intervals of only two tones (A and B for AugsBurg) which subtly, almost subliminally intermingles with the sounds of the traffic, thus giving an aesthetic frame to this ‘noise.’ The title “Private Transport” refers not only to the dominance of cars (as opposed to buses and tramways) in the tunnel, but also to the shift in listening attitudes made possible by this implicit musicalisation of the traffic. The sound coming from the speakers, hidden from view, forms part of the overall acoustic ambience of the tunnel. It invites passers-by to focus on the potential aesthetic pleasure in the infinite variations in the sounds of traffic, as if on a piece of music. “Private Transport” is not a fixed composition, but the name that could be given to the individual mix of soundtrack and ambient sounds that each passer-by creates in their listening mind as they pass through the tunnel. This processual, interactive aspect of the sound work corresponds with the changing nature of the visual artworks in Kunsttunnel, as new volunteer artists keep adding new works while others are painted over.
Some rights reserved. Please refer to individual track pages for license info.