Photographs: Ng Hui Hsien 

großer Lauscher (big Eavesdropper) is a spatial sound performance, recorded in a radar dome, at a listening station in Berlin, Germany. Field Station Berlin was built by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States government, during the cold war in the early 1960’s. Five narrators from five different continents recite the story of Echo from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, translated from Latin into English. The sound piece is exhibited in darkness, where space can be visualized via sound, through the protracted echo, created by the architecture of Field Station Berlin.

An echo is a reflection of sound, parallel in concept to a mirror. When a listener hears an echo, they are hearing a delay or reflection of the direct sound. Echo can also refer to the repeating of what has just been spoken or figuratively speaking, an echo can refer to a sympathetic response or recognition for another. My work investigates this concept of the mirror as a means to studying human connection.

Since the Bauhaus’ era of glass designed buildings to today’s NSA tracking, privacy is becoming a thing of the past. If the very structures of our modern society are built in opposition to self-reflection, we lose our autonomy to become better people for one another. In self-reflection we need a space of solitude, where the other is not projected. However in discovery of our selfhood, we are required to reflect and interact with others.

In order to curate an experience driven solely by sound, the unique acoustic signature of the main radar dome at the Field Station Berlin called for a playful interpretation and immersive implementation through sound design. The performance was recorded in a multichannel audio format in Berlin by Alyssa Miserendino with technical support from Arup. In close collaboration with the artist the audio was then processed, spatialized, and rendered into the final piece by Arup acoustic designers using the proprietary 3D audio technology of the Arup SoundLab®. Arup concurrently designed a spatial sound system to render the piece and provided acoustic consulting expertise for the exhibition space, optimizing the patron aural experience.

This project is supported by corporate sponsorship from ARUP, & Genelec. Additional support has been provided by an Ella Foundation Pratt Emerging Artists Grant, From the Durham Arts Council, with support from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resource + a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

Production team photo taken at Teufelsberg, Berlin (left to right below):
Werner “Zappi” Diermaier
Dirk Dresselhaus
Grant Yarolin
Rehema Chachage
Claudia Martinez Mansell
Ng Hui Hsien
Alyssa Miserendino
Isabela Vecchi Alzuguir

Additional thanks to the preproduction assistance from
Ryan Biziorek & 
Paul Plamper