Oh Hai! We are A Parede, a brazilian artistic research duo currently living in Berlin. Our research interests fall within decolonial thought, radical pedagogies, gender and sound studies.

Drop us a line for collaborations, requests, ideas and/or general friendliness: hello@a-pare.de

Der Bahnhofsgeist (2011)

Der Bahnhofsgeist

Most technology that surrounds the urban everyday life today is invisible. Mobile Phones, computers, ATM machines, for being largely used and present almost everywhere, become ubiquitous, and so do their “invisible skins”. Wireless communications weave connecting threads among physically distant places, bringing all of them into the territory of the in-between – where does it take place, if not everywhere along the spectrum that connects all peers?

Such streams of data intermittently move back and forth, bouncing, reflecting, absorbing and trespassing architecture, cityscape, ether and bodies. In fact, the electromagnetic spectrum comprises every single electronic object, which produces radiation that leaks onto space and their nearby objects; add to this scenario Cellphones, Radio, Bluetooth, Internet and other high frequencies and one can affirm that the atmosphere is polluted and flooded with a plethora of different packets of information, unseen and unheard unless with special apparatuses, but perceived, felt, absorbed, deflected and reflected by the physical body nonetheless.

The train station (Bahnhof in German), particularly in Germany, is of central importance to everyday life. One can view the station also as a territory of in-between, of constant transit and flow connecting several points – cities – while at the same time belonging to none of them. As Brandon LaBelle (2010, p. 9) remarks, it is a “[…] social paradox. It brings together by enabling separate journeys; it structures individual desires and yet in doing so it remains strangely impersonal”. Train stations are overwhelmed with urban poetics, for they welcome home, greet for the first time, bid farewell and physically tear apart relationships, but also leave behind a trace of longing, happiness and sadness, all at the same time, wandering through their corridors and platforms. Specially nowadays within the aforementioned mobile communication panorama, the train station is incessantly filled with ghosts, connecting cities not only physically but also in the ether.

Following this assumption, the Central Station of Bremen, Germany, was the chosen site for the design of a a small performance exploring this “Hertzian psychogeography”. Using a very simple electronic circuit that detects and amplifies GSM Cellphone signals, the performance presents the city dweller to these hidden layers of urban life by attempting to turn them, as well as their physical properties, into musical pieces. It acts as both transducer and mediator between the non-heard and the listening experience, invisible architecture and acoustic territory. The performer, then, takes the duty of a mediator which weaves these unseen layers of a specific site, thereby creating a temporary zone of drift for those who let themselves flow into the hidden rhythm.