A multi-channel Istanbul city soundscape
Composition and realisation, live mix: Werner Cee
Production: Hessischer Rundfunk 2002
Goethe Institut Istanbul
With Gabriele Engelhardt: Live video mix – Swimming over the Bosporus, filmed by Onur Eroglu
Text excerpts from »Das schwarze Buch« [The Black Book] by Orhan Pamuk : »Wenn der Bosporus austrocknet« [When the Bosporus runs dry] and Bettina Obrecht: “”Istanbul Crescendo”
A carousel, the radius of which stretches from the Asian to the European bank of the Bosporus. A rushing whirl in slow motion; layers of sound, some of which appear to rise up from the muddy bed of the Bosporus described by Orhan Pamuk, the incessant hum and roar that is so characteristic of Istanbul… as if the voices of all the centuries were talking simultaneously and incessantly day and night for all eternity.
The sounds of machines, an entire Istanbul machinery.
Every single scrap of conversation, every sounding of a car horn, every ringing of an alarm clock, every child’s cry is a cog that keeps this gigantic clock mechanism working, until one day the great quake produces the last and loudest crescendo and crashes out a massive final chord, for which everything has in fact been feverishly longing for centuries. What follows is quietness, a general rest with a pause.
But since people always feel drawn to where the tension is most unbearable, individual voices will make themselves heard in the silence followed by ever more voices and so the whole giant fabric will be reproduced until a new dome, swollen with the sounds of the past, arches its way over the city.
The entire Media Theatre is transformed into a stage for the sounds from the centre of Istanbul, for a surround sound production that is mixed live. The sounds are supplemented by video sequences that comprise images captured on a boat trip over the Golden Horn / Bosporus in the city centre of Istanbul, during which the underwater camera operates on the surface of the water. Appearing occasionally behind the waves are swaying rows of houses and panoramas of the city that become blurred or disappear the next moment as the water completely swamps the camera. The video sequences, too, are processed live.
The audio, video and text levels are each composed of sequences of different length. They appear simultaneously without being synchronised, thus allowing scope for ever new classifications and combinations and for multiple areas of interpretation and significance. The conflicting nature of the information supplied – at the text level the dried-out Bosporus, the images that are reminiscent of a flood and the lively urban scenery of the sounds – allows for constantly changing associations.
Does the name Istanbul designate the buildings, the people, the air, the water, the haze? Is it possible to describe the city simply by describing all these individual elements? The impressions cannot be added up or multiplied. Even if I were to make it my life’s work to describe all the individual faces the result would not be a description of Istanbul. And if a photographer were to photograph every single building, nobody looking at the photos would see Istanbul.
Hell is said to be the simultaneous presence of all things.
Does that make Istanbul hell? Or just one of its vestibules?
If it were a vestibule of hell there is a fountain that splashes in it.
Istanbul is everything at the same time and in one place..
A free fall.