My new installation work “Breathing Doors” was part of the group exhibition “Shelter – Sanctuary” at the Estonian Contemporary Art Museum in Tallinn. The exhibition ran from June 16th to August 6th 2023 and was curated by Estonian composer Helena Tulve.
Breathing Doors is a work of sensory architecture that explores fluid boundaries between exterior and interior through sound transmission. The installation is based on a live input mix of local urban sounds and an aeolian wind harp ‘weather instrument’ installed on the roof of the museum. The sound signals are transduced through elements that define the space of the room, namely the window panels and furniture. Besides deconstructing the solidity (and solemnity) of the architectural edifice as embodiment of “environmental control”, sound transduction elements within architecture facilitate forms of urban activity and climactic responsiveness. This facilitation encourages a sensory awareness that shifts our attention away from our familiar isolationist materiality of modernist architecture toward a revived animist vibrancy of the living world. The title is derived from the etymological root of window in Old Frisian “andern”, or literally “breath-door.”.
There was a lot of construction in the area. Like most cities Tallinn is big on “urban development”. On the one hand we can see the new housing and the harbour redevelopments as positive because the city was cut off from the seaside for so long (all coastal areas during the soviet union were considered border zones). On the other hand (for me), it’s a missed opportunity to reconnect with the sea in a deeper ecological sense because all the developments are highly commercial. There hasn’t been the least attempt at rewilding or even making park land or open spaces (there are mostly generic “promenades”). Just below the museum they are installing a new tram line that connects the passenger harbour to the city centre. Many of the sounds that permeated into the installation were from this construction and development work. But other combinations of sounds could be heard as well. As the installation relied on a live audio stream, it was possible to also listen online.
Additional report from the exhibition “On Experiencing ‘shelter – sanctuary’ at EKKM” on ECHO GONE WRONG.
Special thanks to Helena Tulve for the invitation, Udo Noll for the mobile mic, Evelyn Raudsepp and the wonderful crew at EKKM for their support.