year: 1998

page: 38-43

quicktime movie

The Voices of the People

Interactive audio installation at "1848 Aufbruch zur Freiheit" (1848: Setting off for freedom.) Kunsthalle Schirn, Frankfurt/Main, 1998.

The theme of the "Voice of the People" audio installation is the development of rhetoric and oratory over the 150 years of German parliamentarism. Modeled on the "Audio Grove" installation in Tokyo in 1997, the installation architecture consists of 60 vertical steel tubes of 80mm diameter standing one meter apart.
Visitors can interactively summon up sixty selected speeches by German parliamentarians from the first German parliament in Frankfurt's St. Paul's Church in 1848 and from the 1998 Bonn Federal Parliament. In this field of steel poles, the names of parliamentarians are engraved on the surface of each and their voices are activated by touching the associated pole.
The historical speeches were recorded by volunteers from the Frankfurt community of lawyers and bankers, the same professions of the original parliamentarians themselves. Two video projectors project the names of the parliamentarians just selected by visitors onto a large screen in the museum foyer.
All the speeches are stored in an database, and the placing of the speeches from different epochs "side by side" thematises their rhetorical status as oral presentations over and above their objective content's historical significance.
This carefully planned spatial organization of the individual voices within the installation room allows visitors to filter the rustling of the "voices of the people" and to focus their attention on one particular speech.

Editing: Susanne Craemer
Sound engineering and sampling: Willi Bopp and Jo Schlosser
Programming: Sven Thoene
Hardware development: Wolfgang Schemmert
Lighting: Stefan Zimmermann
Construction: Ronald Kammer
Graphics: Paul Claessen and Wolfgang Petermann

The project was made possible through the kind support of the lawyers offices of Oppenhoff & Raedler, and of Pfuender, Volhard, Weber & Axner; as well as of the sound archives of the West German Broadcasting Corporation (WDR), and of the German Federal Parliament.