The art of sounds, branches and a skyscraper // WÄRMEPOL

© Frank Schulte
© Frank Schulte

The art of sounds, branches and a skyscraper // WÄRMEPOL – a cross-media installation in the urban space

Sound and media artist Frank Schulte talks about his stay in Chisinau

In October 2015 I moved for ten days to an art residency in Chisinau to create the cross-media project entitled WÄRMEPOL together with the Moldovan artist Valeria Barnas.

WÄRMEPOL is about wishes. We went hunting together in the urban area of Chisinau and asked the passers-by to send a positive thought, a wish, to their closest ones. We managed over 160 audio recordings and over 230 thoughts handwritten on paper. My partnership with Valeria consisted of several aspects: communication, orientation in the urban space and choosing the venues. In the first stage of work we edited the audio recordings, then we used them in two audio compositions.

We chose two places in the urban area for the installation. The “Podzemka Gallery” housed a cross-media installation accessible in an old basement. This underground venue played the part of an “idea generator” or “a space for unspoken thoughts”. Throughout an event, which lasted for several days, we gathered branches and attached them to the ceiling so that, hanging without leaves, they would make you think of a network of roots. To this structure of branches we tied slips of paper with wishes, using wool thread, selectively illuminated by small pocket LED torches. The speakers broadcast the audio composition on a 35-minute loop. The visitors were also given the opportunity to hang their handwritten wishes to the installation.
The second part of the project was going to be created as a permanent installation on the terrace of the 25th floor of a skyscraper located on the city boundary. The plan included a “sky-transmitter”, which was intended to broadcast our audio composition to the heavens and to the urban space, permanently and to anybody, by means of a purpose-built radio FM transmitter. The broadcasting installation was going to be placed in a geodesic greenhouse that we were going to furnish, a place where locals and visitors alike would take care of the plants. The concept brought this venue into the spotlight, as social plasticity, to facilitate exchange, fortuitous meetings and a contemplative vision on the urban space.

Unfortunately, the intention was not realized: during the construction phase, a neighbour vehemently protested against the use of the venue. Due to the limitations of time, we couldn’t iron it out. We do hope though to be able to complete the project once the situation is clarified.

The one thing I took with me from Chisinau is the feeling that despite all the logistic and organizational obstacles, local anticipation about the work and the absolute commitment of all the participants, also emotionally, were convincing. I am truly grateful to have been present on site.
A big thank you to the local organizers of the Centre for Contemporary Art (KSA:K) and the people from the European Voluntary Service, who made possible the realization of this work.

Frank Schulte has worked for over 25 years in the interplay of composed and improvised stage music in cooperation with performance artists, dancers, actors and writers. He composes musical spaces for theatre productions, experiments with new sound production techniques, multi-channel space-sound applications, as well as telematic network performances. He arranges sounds, soundtracks and ambiance for film and television and develops his own conceptual Expanded Media projects, as well as sound installations and projects in public spaces, such as in 2014 the installation “Fortress Hill//: Cetăţuia“ of Cluj-Napoca/Romania.