SCHWEBEN UND HÖREN [1991]

HOVER AND HEAR - FROM SOUND TO SOUND with a Wuppertal cable car
Sound sculpture by Johannes Wallmann



Technik | Außen | Innen | Die Akteure | PassagiereIntervalle | Video | critiques



Premiere performance: November 30 - December 12, 1991, Wuppertal
Organized by: Cultural office of the city of Wuppertal and the Wuppertaler Stadtwerke

Riding on the Wuppertal cable railway elicits a moment of exaltation, as well as the fascination of the river above which it glides along. The idea of this sound installation was to reinforce the feeling of floating and at the same time to be in keeping with the dynamic process whereby everything is in a state of flux. Each of the 18 stretches between the stations along the route was assigned its own pitch scale, and each respective scale differed from the scale of the previous and the following stretch by one pitch (plus its octaves). This resulted in a gradual gliding of sound from one end to the other of the ca. 17-km-long cable railway, which was thus turned into a journey of acoustic experience. Three levels of sound interacted with one another: aside from the fundamental tones already mentioned, also audible were 96 possible variations for each of the 12 modes corresponding to times of day (in accordance to the structure of the duration), as well as the sound produced by the mechanism of the cable car itself and transformed by a harmonizer. The tones and modes were generated live on the basis of the given pitch scales with the help of a synthesizer, and were controlled live by computer, taking account of the variations for the different times of day, and of any chance occurrences. The sound was chosen so that it would approximate the various sounds and noises inherent to the cable car (humming, hissing), and yet might clearly distinguish itself from these. The sounds always began after the doors were closed and the car had started, and were somewhat restrained in volume. Additionally, a mercury switch that reacted to forceful breaking or acceleration, enabled the driver to influence the acoustic phenomena. During the duration of the project, ca. 20,000 cable car passengers came into contact with it. Many people waited, at times for hours, to ride the cable car so they could experience the project. The interviews conducted spontaneously on the last day provide interesting testimony of the opinions of the passengers and the high degree of acceptance with which the project was met.

Technical direction: Johannes Thor
Artistic direction: Johannes Wallmann