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Site-specific spatial sound installation for a panoramic paiting

In cooperation with the Jerusalem Panorama in Altötting Germany, Moritz Fehr has created a spatial sound installation that was opened to the public in August of 2009. The installation has been specially made for the historic panoramia space and is set up permanently.

The monumental cyclorama “Jerusalem Panorama” was painted in 1903 by Gebhard Fugel. It is Germany’s sole historic large-scale Panorama (approximately 95 x 12 meters).

The combination of a panorama painting with sound seems to be as obvious as much as audible elements are capable of supporting the illusionist effect established by the panoramic contraption. However, in the past, sound and noise have mostly been employed, or experimented within Panorama-related forms such as the Diorama and the Moving Panorama. Nowadays, some Panoramas do include sounds, mostly to illustrate the visually given elements.The idea of this work is to use sound as an independent element and by this exceed the limits of its function as a mere supplementary background noise. It is not intended to illustrate the given visual impression of the Panorama, but to broaden the perception of the illusionistic Medium through spatial sound and therefore enhance the immersive experience.

The composition is playing in a cycle of 30 minutes through an array of 16 speakers. Eight of these speakers are projecting the sound onto the large canvas of the panorama which is re ected back to the visitor platform. Other speakers are hidden in the faux terrain of the panorama, the artificial scenery in front of the painting. Some sections of the composition make use of the Ambisonics technique to create a spatial impression of sounds appearing in distance and subtle movement. Material used for the composition are mostly field-recordings and computer-edited “sound colors” of a recorded pipe organ. The different layers of shifting and moving sound create a soundscape that accentuates the distinct layers of the panoramic space or highlight different sections of the painting.

The project was made possible through generous funding by: Streicher & Streicher Foundation, Bavarian Ministry for Science, Research and Art, Kunstfonds Bayern, City of Altötting, Sparkasse Altötting-Mühldorf, Bezirk Oberbayern Kulturfonds Landkreis Altötting.

More information

Jerusalem Panorama (2009), Museum Panorama Altoetting

Jerusalem Panorama (2009), Model (Photo credit: Michael Ott)

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