Kotti Time Piece

4-channel site-specific audio installation

Kotti Time Piece is a site-specific installation in Berlin’s Kottbusser Tor, a melting pot dominated by Turkish-origin immigrants, drug dealers and the partygoers. It is both an homage and a questioning of Max Neuhaus’ “moment pieces”.

The most well known “moment piece” by Neuhaus is the Time Piece Beacon, which consists of a synthesized tone that is played back from speakers concealed in the Dia Foundation in New York. It builds up very slowly, so that unaware listeners normally don’t notice it until its sudden end – it appears by becoming silent, and this way makes us conscious of our own perception process.

In my version, I gave up part of the control in order to be more site-specific: instead of using arbitrary computer-generated tones and instead of doing it in the controlled setting of a museum, I recorded the aural environment of an area near Kottbusser Tor as faithfully as possible with multiple microphones, and reproduced it in the same place, without introducing any sound elements extraneous to that place, only displacing the recorded elements in time, creating a mirror of the original sounds of the site. The loudness was also changed in order to obtain the crescendo and the sudden end effect.

Neuhaus had already worked with microphones in the original Time Piece in the 1980s, but back then the sounds were heavily edited, and he dropped the use of recorded sounds in favor of more control. Here, I invert his path, embracing the chaos that Kotti represents.

This is a binaural rendering of the original multichannel sound installation: