The Whalesong Project – Berlin

  • Klangkunst / Sound Art
  • Installation / Ausstellung

Making Music With Six Monumental Buildings

Fri, 06.09.2024, 18:00 - 19:00 | Berliner Dom

2023, Alexander Johannes, Der Berliner Dom bei Nacht.
© 2023, Alexander Johannes, Der Berliner Dom bei Nacht.

In Alexander Johannes' artistic research project, The Whalesong Project, the artist explores the soundscapes of various architectures and places. During an artist residency at the Filmexplorer / Fieldexplorer Residency Berlin last November, he focused on the monuments in Berlin's historic center, where he set up his recording device overnight. These buildings included the Altes Museum (inner portico), the Berlin Cathedral (center under the dome), the German Historical Museum (in the Schlüterhof), the Friedrichswerder Church (choir), the Neues Museum (Egyptian courtyard), and the former GDR State Council building (banquet hall).
The purpose of this collection of recordings of buildings is to explore their individual soundscapes - what sounds does a building produce and what sounds does it receive and transform, even from the outside? It is primarily about making acoustic phenomena of our everyday living environment visible - or rather, audible. Alexander is particularly interested in this acoustic reality, which we usually pay little attention to and which our brain partially and automatically filters out of our conscious perception as insignificant background noise.
In architecture, we often encounter representations. First and foremost, the sketch, the plan - or drawing - and the model. Architects like to refer to all three media as a special language.
The Whalesong Project is a search for another representation of space, and what could be better regarded as the language of space than its sound? Of course, there is also a form language that relates to the physical shaping of a building. But precisely this form language of the building bodies, in turn, influences their soundscapes, which must inevitably be products of the soundscapes of the places in resonance with these building bodies.
The soundscape typically captured in a sound recording is conceptually similar to photography or video as a representational medium, but in one respect, it is particularly akin to music - namely, in its poetic power to create images in the minds of listeners, which are more unspecific and subjective than the visual impressions conveyed by the aforementioned media, including the sketch, the drawing, and the model.
This is where the installation by the artist Alexander Johannes aims to connect. The presentation of the recordings, which each captured the hour from midnight to 1 a.m. in the aforementioned buildings, takes the form of an automated composition of a soundscape. This is created by the constantly and randomly oscillating intensities of the overlapping building recordings.
Additionally, he introduces a visual element: the waveforms of the audible building soundscapes. Unintentionally, but perhaps not entirely coincidentally, these visualizations of the building soundscapes bear a resemblance to the script symbols of the aliens in the Hollywood film ‘Arrival’.
The space, the building, the architecture. The installation aims to present the viewer with a new form of representation of these entities and stages them as a foreign, extraterrestrial, and yet to be understood language, the decryption of which may bring new implications regarding our conception of space.


  • Berliner Dom
  • Am Lustgarten
  • 10178 Berlin, Mitte
  • Fri, 06.09.2024, 18:00 - 19:00
  • Break: X
  • The installation is accessible throughout the entire period (18:00-19:00). The artist will be present.

    The regular entrance fee to the cathedral is 10€.
    Payment can be made on-site; no advance booking is necessary.

    For possible discounts please visit the website of the Berlin Cathedral.