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  • SONGLINES_klangkunst

TICKLE THE SENSE OF PoSSIBILITY With Kaffe Matthews and Erwin Stache

16.10. – 25.10.20

For ten days Kaffe Matthews and Erwin Stache will be transforming Nuremberg into a walkable and ridable sound route. The result is more than just aesthetically pleasing interruptions to the urban grammar: it is works that invite you to try out and join in, to enjoy and get irritated – »Klangkunst«, or sound art, that breaks into everyday life to tickle the sense of possibility.


The city is increasingly becoming a projection space for fantasies of security and profits, in which the latest smart city vision fits in just as well as the building for tourist amusement or the next investors’ cardboard home. The metropolis of the future must be safe, consumer-friendly and as free from ambivalence as possible.

Where are the free spaces for art and its visibility in public space? Where, so to speak, is the counter-programme to this smart and smooth surface created by investors and urban planners?

The SONGLINES_klangkunst programme is all about the visibility of art in public space and the connection between artistic excellence and the inhabitants of a city who become performers. Here, sound art is open to all people who enjoy taking action and interacting. In other words, art that only becomes an artistic event in the first place because people actively play with it.

With the support of the »Klangkunst« curator Carsten Seiffarth, we have been able to attract two internationally renowned artists to Nuremberg, Erwin Stache and Kaffe Matthews. Their installations liberate the viewer from the role of an extra and make them accomplices in art that conquers public space, to temporarily transform it into special poetry zones.


Erwin Stache is among the pioneers of interactive sound art. His installations combine junk, everyday objects and other found items to create technical, but also sensuous masterpieces, the tonal results of which oscillate between Beethoven and cuckoo clock.

Once placed in a public space, Stache’s works function as »uncertainty machines« in the best sense: they turn listening habits upside down, sabotage musical prejudices and overstretch the sense of possibility. Above all, however, they have one thing in common: a sizeable portion of absurdity and humour.

Stache’s sound art is now in action for the first time in Nuremberg and at selected cultural venues invites people to activate it, play with it and try it out.

Illustrierte Karte von Nürnberg


Metal tubes serve as measuring sensors. If the metal tubes are touched or two are electrically connected by touch, a very small current, like that of a torch battery, for example, flows from one pole to the other. Sounds, tones and noises are influenced by the fluctuation of the skin’s resistance or the specially generated current, triggered by different pressure exerted on the metal or different skin moisture and skin consistency.

Every touch noticeably changes the pitch and timbre. The sound becomes rougher or duller, goes up or down. You can move through numerous sounds, as if you had an orchestra reacting spontaneously to every point of the finger. Mutual touching, like pinching the nose or pulling on the ear, can also be used to create sounds.

When there is a draught, we close the door, why not because it suddenly gets noisy outside? The installation »Tür zu, es rauscht!« turns »roomless« doors into volume controls. Two audio tracks are controlled depending on the door movement. The sound moves from the frame to the floor. The passer-by can pursue the illusion of being able to control sounds and noises in a public space. Since you cannot turn off the noises, you add acoustic events by opening the doors. If you let these take effect for a while and then close the individual doors, you experience the remaining auditory events all the more strongly by reducing the background noise.


Gemeinschaftshaus Langwasser

The clicking sounds made by mechanical programme discs on older washing machines are the acoustic source material. One rotation of such a disc normally took one to two hours. Every click was an isolated sound.

To put the sounds in relation to each other, the programme sequences were now condensed with the help of motor drives.

The switching commands water – on, drum – forwards, drum – backwards, pump – on, spin, etc. ... are now worked through in less than one minute, without of course really triggering the processes. Only now do you notice tonal differences between the individual switching sounds, caused by differently sized bronze spring contacts. The result is a series of acoustic events that form a kind of melody.

16 discs rotate at different speeds and, following a composition, are switched on and off. Corresponding lights on the objects illustrate the sound movement. Two time sequences overlap, that of the fixed composition and that of the isolated programme disc »melodies«. This also results in quasi random acoustic cuts of the individual actions and constantly changing sound and noise sequences.


Kulturwerkstatt Auf AEG

It’s a »ready-made ready-made«. The technical object is not only elevated to the status of a work of art, but is also alienated at the same time, without significantly changing its original form. The relays and the motor form a rhythm machine. It plays compositions that are constantly changing. Even though there is an electronic control, the sound is still acoustic. No speaker is used.

The »Wundermaschine« is an industrial object, but it is designed consciously. The electrical parts were not simply placed in a box. The developer worked like an architect, placing the parts according to form and function, thus creating a unique aesthetic.

You can only guess at the original function of the machine. The motor rotated very fast and measured times to determine distances to disturbances in ground power lines. Mechanical time measurement, so to speak. Frequency generation. Very confusing.


Kulturwerkstatt Auf AEG

The megaphone tries to emit and amplify sound in one direction, to convey information over long distances. In »Flüster Laut« it becomes a »quiet instrument«. A dialogue develops, but this leads nowhere and only makes pretend agreements. If you whisper or speak quietly, you have to articulate all the more clearly to convey content. The text heard gives the impression of agreements or arrangements. From time to time, speech leaves its function as an information carrier to vary, noisily and musically, with sounds. The sound of the speech is reminiscent of Dadaism and sound poetry. By rotating the megaphones and inserting pauses, one could think that the voices were afraid of unwanted listeners who might betray their imaginary intentions. The transmission remains mysterious.


Kulturladen Zeltnerschloss

Clay pots are attached to stands. Like large mushrooms, they blend into the natural environment.

Plant pots normally enclose soil, represent a kind of boundary, have a meaning as a vessel, so to speak, while, as sound elements with the opening facing downwards, they lose their vessel character. The sound can spread freely in all directions.

The acoustic tones are coupled with electronic alienations. The listeners themselves have the opportunity to compose. You can influence the order, tempo, randomness or fixed sequence of tones and the way acoustic and amplified sounds are mixed. An interactive control panel is available to you.


Kulturladen Loni-Übler-Haus

The cuckoo clock uses a bird's voice to announce the time. Each clock plays two sounds which form the distinctive interval of a minor third using bellows and organ pipes.

Originally the cuckoo clock with its ornaments and colorful decorative elements often stands for a typical kitsch object. However, at the same time it is also a sound object in the broadest sense with its two inherent tones.

According to the slogan »Cuckoos of all countries, unite to sing a song!« Erwin Strache was searching for differences in the pitch of the cuckoo's voices in different regions. Assuming that one could find the cuckoos you need to play a song, he connected five (and later six) electronically controlled cuckoo clocks. Every clock's set of two tones differed from each other. Thus the birds suddenly had to »arrange« at what time which door was supposed to open and what sound was supposed to sing. Time was becoming less important, but suddenly the sound and the song increasingly did matter.

While the former cuckoo clock orchestra used electronically generated sounds, this new cuckoo clock organ produces the sounds acoustically through the organ pipes. For Erwin Stache it is important that the cuckoo clocks rather appear as an instrument and that the sounds they produce become visible for the viewer. Because of this the organ pipes are not hidden but mounted outside at the clock.

The doors and the timing of sounds are controlled electronically. Thus, it is possible to play music pieces automatically which is similar to an orchestrion. Despite the limited number of tones, a sophisticated arrangement of it can create a rich sound characteristic. Every melodic movement, every chord can be understood. Due to the cuckoo's necessity to constantly open and close their doors they develop an amusing bustle. Therefore the musical action becomes also a humorous theatrical experience. This is further reinforced by background noises and vocalizations which will sound from time to time.

You will hear several classical pieces by Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann etc. as well as Stache’s own creations especially composed for this unique orchestra.


Kulturladen Südpunkt

Video: SONGLINES_klangkunst - Sound installations by ERWIN STACHE

SONGLINES_klangkunst - Sound installations by ERWIN STACHE


The compositions of the British artist Kaffe Matthews are sound topographies that cover the city like a carpet and can be explored by special bicycle. The artist calls her invention »Sonic Bikes« – bicycles equipped with speakers and GPS tracking devices, which transform the urban spaces the cyclist rides through into an operatic backdrop with the stories and sounds to be heard.

Kaffe Matthews’ artistic material is the body of the city: its history and traditions, its myths, its conflicts and rifts, its numerous biographies and lives lived. In her compositions, they transform into music, sound and higher poetry – or in other words: into tonal re-illuminations and new illuminations of the local environment.


Illustrierte Karte von Nürnberg


There are numerous surprises and sonic treasures to experience on Kaffe Matthews’ Sonic Bikes on the banks of the Pegnitz river. The nearby, the historical, the architectural and the social – pause for a moment to discover them musically. You will come across sounds and frequencies that are amplified through tunnels, transported by bridges, creating music that you might not ever have guessed existed.

Collaborating with young people from Nuremberg, Kaffe Matthews and the Bicrophonic Research Institute explored and recorded acoustic phenomena along the river and the six tunnels, and used these, together with other sound material, to develop a new interactive song that draws on GPS data to map the landscape musically.

On the Sonic Bikes, ONE RIVER SIX TUNNELS participants quite literally ride through the work. They experience a unique composition, depending on the route they take and the places they pass. Passive listeners become active sound producers, who, on their melodious bicycles, create the piece of music again and again in a new and individual way through the city and along the Pegnitz.

The Sonic Bikes can be borrowed free of charge from 16th to 25th October 2020 at the SONGLINES HUB (Spitalgasse 1) daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – last rental: 5 p.m.!

Come by every day and borrow your individual Sonic Bike!

More information: Bikes can only be borrowed if an identity card or passport is left as a security deposit. The Sonic Bikes are disinfected before each use.


Twitter: @bicrophonics