Incom ist die Kommunikations-Plattform der Fachhochschule Potsdam

In seiner Funktionalität auf die Lehre in gestalterischen Studiengängen zugeschnitten... Schnittstelle für die moderne Lehre

Incom ist die Kommunikations-Plattform der Fachhochschule Potsdam mehr erfahren

the archaic romance (in) between the ordinary modern structures of the city and the flesh

the archaic romance (in) between the ordinary modern structures of the city and the flesh

This Video and Sound Installation deals with an abstract glimpse on the entangled structures and relations between the human as a (living) body out of flesh and the city as a (lifeless) creature hidden underneath the outer skin of asphalt.

The Project was developed in two different classes, held at the Europäische Medienwissenschaften. Video: „Stadt und Film“ Prof. Anne Quirynen Sound: „Resonances and Reverberations. Listening as a Bodily Experience“ Martyna Poznańska

The Theme

What is a city? What are the cities structures and its unseen and natural but archaic repressions on me, the flesh? What is the relation between me and the city? Am I part of the city? Am I the city? Is the city me?

The fascination of the differences in the materials of skin (as a vivid human structure) and asphalt (as the cover, the floor, the ground of the city and the layer, that hides the cities network underneath: the cables, the pipes but also the natural ground and really: the earth) leads to the will of understanding the inner relation between me and my asphalt surounding.

Asphalt seems to be a lifeless material. Yet, it is the network combining the lifes of millions, connecting goods with people, people with people, armies with enemies, companies with clients.

I see the cities structure as an archaic structure. Urban planning enclose safety areas and form certain communities, also by excluding other communities, since the city itself exists. Going through the city every day, I don't question the grid of big and small streets, the many houses, the many people walking behind and beside me, doing what they do. I appreciate the advantages of many opinions and cultural freedom. Yet I rant at the gentrification, at the advertisement, at the newly constructed buildings with its fancy flats only a small percentage of people can afford.

Humans are living creatures without doubt. But lazy, when it comes to living in a city. Not bodily lazy, more lazy in a way that they use the practical existing (and also archaic) network of a city without questioning its structure or only even think about it.

The Installation

The Installation combines the images of the abstract structures of flesh and asphalt, a living and a lifeless creature, and different organic and electronical sounds to illustrate (and in the same way create) a possible atmosphere emerging from their affiliation.

The Video

Bildschirmfoto 2019-02-19 um 16.02.17.pngBildschirmfoto 2019-02-19 um 16.02.17.png
Bildschirmfoto 2019-02-19 um 16.02.27.pngBildschirmfoto 2019-02-19 um 16.02.27.png

The Video shows visually the two different structures of flesh and asphalt. It is loosely constructed in the form of a classical drama.

The two surfaces represent the protagonists in an abstract way to not only expand the ways of interpretation (can a relation between a human and the city be the same like the relation between two humans or two animals or is there even a connection between these two materials and what kind of connection?) but also to experiment with the spectators point of view. The different light settings show the structures in variant traits and impersonate these lifeless objects. A spotlight is used for the narrowed view that keeps the atmosphere obscure and the spectator limited in his*hers knowledge of the scene. The video is not supposed to be the answer on the question of how we interact with the city and the city interacts with us. It is only an atmospheric glimpse into this nebulous and wide field and should, in the best way, raise questions about living creatures, living objects, differences and similarities.

pw: haut

While developing the concept of the video, I started to film and cut a test version that experiments with skin, asphalt, machines, surfaces and liquids. The sound I used here was recorded in Martyna Poznanska's class with an electromagnetic coil, modified and arranged with ableton.

sound and video collage, filmed, recorded and found on youtube

The Sound

The city is represented by recordings made with an electromagnetic microphone. The recordings are characterized by their rhythmically and robotically sound that is in its tiny bits still unforseeable and scruffy, often hard and abrupt. The electromagnetic sounds convey the impression of a rough material that is covered with an uneven and rocky surface. The robotically rythms note the mechanical aesthetic of coating streets with asphalt and furthermore note the mechanical and yet archaic act of building up a city.

The flesh is represented by quiet tones of organic material, recorded with a supercardioid microphone. The quietness works well with the closeness of the image. It represents also the real act to get close to someone or something in order to get to know himher personally and hear all hisher vibes. The organic sound also stands as an individual ton in opposite of the rhythmical noise of the city.


Eight speakers are used to let the listener immerse in the scene and to get a spatial installation.

I loosely decided, that the right half (speaker 1-4) mainly plays the asphalt sounds, while the left half (speaker 5-8) mainly plays corporeal tones. Atmospheric sounds are placed on different speakers in order to fit the situated light of the visible image. As the video moves on, the sound swaps speakers. The different structures move and break into the other sphere and, finally, the asphalt sounds conquer all speakers.

The Work(flow)(schedule)(problems)

To work on one project in two different classes had a lot of advantages for me. I could really concentrate on image AND sound.

I developed the theme and the structure of the installation mostly in the class „Stadt und Film“, while I concentrated on recording, modifying and rearranging/composing sounds during the other class.

The final process of filming and recording developed out of experiments and try outs. I concentrated on the light setting and the field of view on one hand and on the spatial effects of using several speakers and unusual noises to create a certain atmosphere on the other. During the first time of the semester I learned a lot about the history of Berlin, portrayed in different films and formats. I got to know different microphones and editing softwares. I experienced what it meant to really listen to my surrounding and how the procedure of listening is experienced through my body.


The theme: As the time went by, I figured out, that I cannot explain and illustrate a theme clearly and objectively, because it is so abstract and in itself nebulous, as everyones relation to the city is a personal and subjective one. Due to bad weather conditions and shortness of supplies I couldn't find a building site, that was working with asphalt at that time. Both problems let to my decision to concentrate on a really close field of view.

The flesh/skin: first I worked with my body in order to show human skin. But I found it to figurative. You could easily tell what part of the body was shown. After a few experiments I decided to get away from skin and work more with the flesh.

The sound: it was really hard to fing organic noises, that wouldn't sound mechanical between the electromagnetic recordings. After I tried a lot, I worked a lot with pauses and different directions (speakers) to clarify the differences.

I had also a few issues with adobe premiere, that I couldn't fix until the end. So there are several unwanted frames left in the video which I only noticed when I saw it on a big screen.

In conclusion I really liked working with abstract sounds and images. The Feedback I got from both classes was very helpful although it was diverse regarding the intention of the installation. Personally, I do not like a clear intention in art and design pieces. I rather want to raise questions on ourselves. I see, that using the (lifeless) flesh, instead of my (lifefull) skin can overload the topic and raise questions in a different direction as watching it comes with a certain feeling of disgust. But what is disgust and why do I feel it?

Ein Projekt von



Art des Projekts

Studienarbeit im zweiten Studienabschnitt


foto: Anne Quirynen


Wintersemester 2018 / 2019