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Silence – The Other Advent

A sonic image from the Augustinian Monastery in Erfurt

Around 10,000 people watched the installation SILENCE from 27.11.21 to 06.01.22 in the Augustinian Church in Erfurt – thus being affected by the images and sounds of the monastery and its surroundings and experiencing the advent season in a different way.

 Journalist Blanka Weber:
»Sensual, touching – an installation that picks up the guests in the here and now and yet can also take them into other spheres.«
 

Reaction of guests:
»We watched SILENCE several times because we only gradually discovered the complexity of the images and sounds and their interplay.«

»I was surprised by the sensitivity and complexity of this installation. There were countless motifs from Erfurt to discover.«
 
»It felt good to immerse myself in this other world, to sit back and just let go.«
 
»With SILENCE, amazement has returned to the church.«
 
»Fascinating. An enraptured world. Taking a breath in the silence.«
 

Project scope

  • Artistic conception
  • Performance conception
  • Image and sound recordings
  • Composition
  • Technical planning and implementation
  • Press and public relations
  • Cooperation with local actors
  • Documentation

Curation + Production

  • GENIUS LOCI, Weimar

Organiser

  • Protestant Augustinian Monastery, Erfurt

Event technology

  • ReBeam GmbH, Berlin

SILENCE on MDR Culture

Listen to the radio report by Blanka Weber from 08.12.2021 here:

Watch the SILENCE documentary here

15-minute shortcut of the 30-minute performance

10,000 visitors experience SILENCE in the Augustinian Church

Augustinian pastor Bernd S. Prigge wanted „another advent“ for 2021 and requested us via Genius Loci to create an installation for his church in Erfurt. The sonic image SILENCE – THE OTHER ADVENT was so well received that it was extended into the new year. During the almost six weeks, more than 10,000 visitors experienced it. Hendrik Wendler from the Thuringian video and projection art festival Genius Loci was responsible for the curation and production.

Hendrik Wendler, Genius Loci:
»With SILENCE, Area Composer have once again provided a ‚perfect match‘ for a demanding task. The request from the congregation of the Augustinian Church in Erfurt for an artistic production for the advent season was very valuable and important for us from Genius Loci. Of course, we wanted a result that was at the same time powerful, sublimely illuminating the dark advent season, but at no time drifting into the thoughtless, kaleidoscopic. SILENCE meets this requirement perfectly. Sounds and images, carefully condensing from the mundane into the sacred, decelerate and touch in a unique and secure way that only the artists of Area Composer are capable of realising. «

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The Augustinian Monastery ...
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and the historical centre of Erfurt ...
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are captured in picture and sound.
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The entire choir room of the church ...
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becomes a projection screen.
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Area Composer and Francesco Della Toffola ...
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... and Hendrik Wendler while setting up the mapping software.
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Three high-performance projectors on the gallery enable 270-degree projection.

270-degree projection with 3D sound

During our five-day visit in September 2021, we take thousands of photographs and many hours of sound recordings in Erfurt’s historic city centre, from which we compose the sonic image. Thus SILENCE is not only a portrait of the Augustinian monastery, but also leads the viewer through squares and alleys to other significant buildings in the city, such as the Preacher’s Church, the Cathedral and the Barfüsser Church.

Five days before the premiere, we are back in Erfurt to accompany the set-up and adapt the composition to the church hall. Mapping software is used to adapt the images precisely to the shape of the walls so that it fills the entire choir room of the Augustinian Church. Three high-performance projectors on the gallery enable the 270-degree projection. To ensure that the historic choir windows remain visible even in the dark, they become part of the composition as a separate image layer. The sounds are played over the church’s own sound system and unfold in three-dimensional sound characteristics. The entire installation is controlled remotely via a media server. The technology remains invisible to the church visitors – the sonic image seems to develop from the church architecture itself.

Screenshot 2021-12-04 at 20-18-17 Silence Part one from Area Composer on VimeoScreenshot 2021-12-04 at 20-18-17 Silence Part one from Area Composer on Vimeo
1 - ADVENT
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2 - JOURNEY THROUGH SPACE AND TIME
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3 - WAY TO INNER PEACE
4-Traum-Wirklichkeit4-Traum-Wirklichkeit
4 - BETWEEN DREAM AND REALITY
5-Adventlicher-Ausklang5-Adventlicher-Ausklang
5 - FINALE
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The chandeliers also become a projection surface ...
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and their shadows become part of the composition.

The 5 stations of silence

We compose SILENCE as a flowing triptych with the medieval choir windows of the Augustinian Church at its centre. The 30-minute composition follows a fixed dramaturgy in which images and sounds react to each other. Two different soundtracks with different instrumentation alternate. The sonic image comprises 5 stations:

1 ADVENT

Bell sounds summon the visitors. Those arriving still carry the noises of the city with them as they immerse themselves in a sea of organ pipes that gradually blend with the stone window arches of Erfurt’s various churches. The vertical structures of the organ pipes and windows take up the height of the church and direct the view upwards. The main tonal motif is first intoned and taken up by the organ.

2 JOURNEY THROUGH SPACE AND TIME

The path leads out in front of the monastery and into the city, through narrow lanes and wide squares to the most striking buildings, such as the town hall and the cathedral. The view moves from left to right and back again, giving the impression that the buildings are reflected on the opposite church walls – an alternation of tension and calm, light and dark, seemingly day and night. Choir voices and organ sounds take the visitors back to Luther’s medieval times; accents from field recordings (original sound recordings from Erfurt) bring them back to the here and now.

3 WAY TO INNER PEACE

Back in the church hall, various details of sculptures, paintings and scrolls from the monastery and from other churches can be discovered. They manifest themselves from the wall structures and seem like apparitions or random visitors. The play of the triptych becomes particularly clear: the images on the left wall seem to comment on the events on the right wall. Choir voices in the authentic sound of the church hall make the listeners feel more and more at peace, until finally a lilting melody of flute and organ seems to herald a celebration.

4 BETWEEN DREAM AND REALITY

The play of colours of the stained glass windows from the Augustinian Church fills the entire choir room. Concrete details blur into abstract structures and inspire the imagination. In an oversized depiction, the windows reveal never-before-seen details and tell ancient stories. The sound transports visitors into a mystical, fantastic world. Variations in the instrumentation change the perception. Is this just a dream or reality?

5 FINALE

The variety of colours gradually meanders into a festive glow from details of windows and chandeliers. The advent mood is intensified by the glow of candles, a chime picks up the main tonal motif. Everyday noises bring visitors back and get them in the mood for leaving the church. The quiet melody will accompany them all the way home. Organ pipes introduce the loop, the journey begins anew.

Premiere of SILENCE on 27.11.2021 with Hendrik Wendler, Peter Hölscher, Dorothee Pilavas, Ronald Gaube and Augustinian pastor Bernd S. Prigge (from left to right).

Augustinian pastor Bernd S. Prigge:
»We are immensely grateful for the realisation of this sonic image, which touched many people from Erfurt and beyond. We thank the artist trio for its inspiring work. In the second Corona year, the project has addressed, comforted and encouraged many.«