Investigate how to sonically activate the site of MOTEL, an artist and architect hub for community in Innsbruck, Austria, slated to be removed to become an on-ramp
As part of my three-week long artist residency at MOTEL, an artist and architect urban hub in Innsbruck, Austria (Tirol), I was asked to activate the site via live sound performance for a community audience, as it was slated to be torn down that summer to become an on-ramp for the city’s highway. The hosts hoped that their lease would be extended until they found a new space.
HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE
Myself as Lead Researcher,Designer and Composer,
MOTEL hosts and Grassmayr Bell Foundry
Create a collaborative composition that unites various communities in Innsbruck, Austria on-site at MOTEL.
BREAKING DOWN THE PROCESS
Field Studies, Empathy Interviews, and Soundwalking:
I spent a lot of time listening to the MOTEL space, the people, the city, and I hiked the Alps surrounding Innsbruck that you could see from MOTEL. I collected many field recordings and composed a piece that played off the most frequent sounds of the space and city: church bells, the subway rumble, airplanes, and the cows wearing harmonizing bells in the mountains near streams.
I found a sticker on a window on-site at MOTEL from Grassmayr Bell Foundry, and I discovered that they used to own the space but moved blocks away. The Grassmayr Bell Foundry is a maker of church bells founded more than 400 years ago in Innsbruck, Austria. My host at MOTEL contacted them, and we were given a private tour to help bless the world's largest metal singing bowl designed by Med-el who owns the Listening Museum in Innsbruck. I was then given permission to use some of Grassmayr's singing bowls for my performance to help try to extend the lease on the space.
The 45-minute performance in three parts activated the unique site through spatialized sound and multimedia installation. Collaborators included local artists, ludwig technique, Anna Lerchbaumer, and Laura Boob. Community members attended from the local University, IT-Syndikat (DIY Maker Space ), Grassmayr Bell Foundry family, and residents of the area. The performance involved audience participation with the ringing out of the space with small bells that I handed out.
Ultimately, news reached the city officials, and they allowed MOTEL to stay another three months. And beyond that, the hosts told me that they were inspired by my work, and within a year they had a large grant from the city of Innsbruck that they included me in to work with children with field recorders and sound mapping to highlight areas of the city that should be preserved.
Statement by the artists:
We are building on the mission of Motel: activating the space that is alive with sounds and unique character. The site itself is an architectural body that will resonate and provide a visceral feedback loop to the body of participants. Participants are then invited to improvise with small instruments to find their individual resonance within the outdoor space.
We want to explore the many recursive layers of interaction which occur within the space. Field recordings are used with the intent to activate the imagination, forming personal narratives for the participant. The recorded material reveals the unique architectural acoustics of Motel and also what is common to daily life of Innsbruck, Austria, sounds that may often go unnoticed on a conscious level.
A temporary sculpture/installation forms a counter-point to the architectural structure of the Motel. Video installations utilizing feedback-loops magnify the movements and vibrations in the space, interacting with participants and the soundwaves. Footage of the Motel site is presented as a fractured installation, adding another dimension of self-reference.
Not meant for listening to in headphones. These field recordings were created for listening from a rooftop in an outdoor 360 degree world of tall mountains, cows wearing bells, highway, low-flying planes, the rumble of an underground subway, two empty oil drums on wooden pallets, and the resonance of 50-something audience members' heart cavities.