The Sounds of Prague Flew Around the Globe

20. listopad 2009

It was like a dream... Straight from a muddy street I entered into a dimly lightened hall of a former sewage cleaning station in the Prague's neighbourhood of Bubeneč. I found myself in a place that was arranged particularly for my ears. In front of my eyes, reified images of what I heard came gradually rising up from a smoke evoking foggy haze of autumn streets. During the bell chime I could recall specific Prague churches with their gardens just in the moment when the ringing was replaced by birdsong... In front of me, there were trams passing and disappearing in the streets crowded by rushing people... Siren horn mingled with the drops of dripping water and hissing steam and slowly faded away into the calm breathing of a sleeping child. I experienced a walk through Prague without having to get up from my chair. And moreover, anybody who had never been to Prague could accompany me on the stroll from their radio receivers at home.

A two-year project Favourite Sounds of Prague, the first project of its kind in the Czech Republic offering a sound map of Prague, culminated in a satellite live transmission broadcasted within the framework of the EBU Euroradio season (and for the first time in the programme structure of Ars Acustica). Tens of the so-called ´sound hunters´ participated in this event, including the public since any listener or internet user could make their own contributions.

Lucid dreams resounded throughout the sewage cleaning station

Apart from the radio transmission, the fans of audio art could get a taste of the mosaic of Favourite Sounds of Prague (and much more) also live on the spot at the Ekotechnicke museum in the neighbourhood of Bubeneč in Prague on the 10th November 2009. This museum was chosen as the setting for a three-hour site-specific performance by the authors Peter Cusack and Miloš Vojtěchovský. Lucid Dream of Mr. William Heerlein Lindley illuminated hidden resonance possibilities of this ingenious architectonic treasure, words that one can undoubtedly use while describing the historic sewage cleaning station, and thus paid the tribute to its architect. Artists arranged a number of objects in the underground space of the station and during the evening they were producing various sounds with them; including the central tub containing a number of glass bowls in the water driven by a pump which made them hit one another and produce melodic clinking. Live mix of all of the sound levels resounded through the whole building and penetrated even into its brick walls.

The Award of the Respekt Magazine

The informal evening was decorated by the Award of the Respekt Magazine which was granted to the project Favourite Sounds of Prague. The prize was accepted by Peter Cusack, experienced artist from Great Britain who has already created similar sound maps in London, Chicago and Peking. Mr. Cusack was invited to cooperate on this project together with Miloš Vojtěchovský by the main curators of the whole Czech - German co-production Zipp; a project that besides "Favourite Sounds of Prague" includes also a radio activity radio d-cz and that is organized under the umbrella of German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Despite the fact that the activity attracted mainly music enthusiast of delicate sound taste, the project Favourite Sounds of Prague surely surpasses numerous genres and its legacy is not only an artistic contribution but it has also important social and historical value. After all, who wouldn´t want to listen to a sonic recording dated back for instance hundred years? However, only time will perhaps tell the proper recognition of these efforts.

It is nice to see that Czech Radio became one of the main co-creators of the mutual bonding through audio art being represented by the main producer of the evening Michal Rataj, International Relations Department and Production Centre. It is also very comforting to see that the listening has not been written off yet.

author: Apolena Vynohradnyková
Spustit audio