"Türen der Wahrnehmung"

eine RADIOARBEIT von Hildegard Westerkamp


Dauer: 28' 45"


The fog horns of the ships in St. Johns, Newfoundland are a part of this collage by Hildegard Westerkamp, a German composer, acoustic and radio artist living in Vancouver, Canada. Ms. Westerkamp uses these horn sounds as an instrument in this harbor concert. The Canadian magazine "Musicworks" included a cassette in one of its editions, which contains a collage from the Soundsymposion 89 in St. Johns.

"I come from a music background, having studied music in Freiburg. Later I emigrated to Vancouver, where I did a Bachelor of Music as well. At the beginning I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with music - I wasn't really so interested in playing an instrument, I wasn't a performer and as I was finishing up my studies I met Murray Schaeffer, a Canadian composer who had a research group which was working with sounds. Environmental sound, noises and music and the whole group was made up of composers and musicians. I was very interested in what he was doing and felt that this was the right stuff for my ears. The traditional methods of teaching music had always intimidated me a bit it and also intimidated my ears and when I met him, it felt like my ears just opened up. I listened to the world and realized that I had always done just that and that I enjoyed it. When I saw that we were able to work well with each other I became one of his ÏresearchersÓ and the longer I worked in the field, the more interested I became in making recordings of nature, to then work with them in the studio. I gradually started to learn how to work in a studio and after a few years I became suddenly interested in composing and then I produced a kind of a piece which was based on environmental sounds. That's why my pieces are never really suited for concert halls, because they always have a message. Many of the composers who work with computer sounds do this on a more abstract basis. So I feel like a bit of an outsider, at least here in North America. I am always very interested in maintaining the relationship that these environmental sounds have with the natural phenomena, and use the sounds much in the same way as the French "musique concrete" uses the material. The audience should be able to hear this relationship, because I personally have a strong relationship to environmental sounds and I think that their meaning has a great deal of influence on our way of life. For example, if we are constantly surrounded by noise, we don't even know what our voices sound like. Or if we are constantly surrounded by music, as is the case here in America, we lose our relationship with our own voice. And I was and am very interested in understanding how these environmental sounds influence us. Here in this landscape I am very interested in quiet and space." (Hildegard Westerkamp)

Hildegard Westerkamp sees her work as a part of an ecology of sounds. As a composer and radio artist, she often works together with her husband Norbert Ruebesaat, a poet. He writes poems which are not merely illustrated with sounds by Westerkamp - the poem becomes the sound itself. The words and the quiet become identical with the quiet, as in her work "whisper study" for example. In the 1989 Ars electronica catalogue, Hildegard Westerkamp wrote:
"Progressive radio does not go with the flow. Not going with the flow in the sense of Adorno, i.e. the status quo of ear numbing does not follow. Not going with the flow in radio means sending all the sounds which people usually don't hear. The things that are not heard in everyday life in our society are usually heard on smaller radio stations, be it children's voices, foreign languages or traffic noises. Progressive radio listeners don't go with the flow. They listen to things that aren't supposed to be listened to. Progressive radio artists broadcast worlds of sounds which do not comply with traditional radio rhythms and divide up radio time differently. A radio composition of environmental sounds wakes up your ears." (Hildegard Westerkamp)

"Radio is a perfect medium for these things. It is very difficult to just play tapes in a concert hall and you can do so much with radio: you don't need any compositions, you can produce a collage or a sound document. There is more freedom and less convention." (Hildegard Westerkamp)

Westergard's radio composition "Doors of Perception" was created for ORF- Kunstradio and the Ars electronica in 1989. It consists of several chapters, which can also be listened to individually. This was done in Linz during the Ars electronica via the public address system at the airport, in shopping centers and so on. But "Doors of Perception" can also be listened to as a single work. A text excerpt from Hildegard Westerkamp about this work:
"Radio has the possibility to open doors to new and old worlds of sound. The groaning, creaking doors in the piece lead us into a scary world. One door leads us to the wilderness, another to the train station, to the street, or to a stream on a different continent. Or it can simply lead us into the world of acoustic imagination. Radio can listen in everywhere. "Doors of Perception" is a radio fairy tale, which has gone out to learn how to listen. It invites one to listen, regardless of if it is at the bus stop, while shopping or at work."
(Hildegard Westerkamp)


Die kanadische Zeitschrift "Musicworks" hat ihrer jüngsten Ausgabe eine Cassette beigelegt, die eine Collage vom letzten Soundsymposion in St. Johns enthält. Zu dieser Collage gehören auch die Nebelhörner des Hafens, die die aus Deutschland stammende in Vancouver lebende Komponistin, Klang- und Radiokünstlerin Hildegard Westerkamp in "Türen der Wahrnehmung" als Instrumente verwendet hat.

Für das ORF-Kunstradio und die Ars Electronica entstand 1989 Hildegard Westerkamps Radioarbeit "Türen der Wahrnehmung". Sie besteht aus mehreren Kapiteln, die auch einzeln gehört werden können. Und das wurden sie in Linz auch: während der Ars electronica über öffentliche Lautsprechersysteme am Flughafen, in Kaufhäusern und sofort. "Türen der Wahrnehmung" ist zugleich aber auch eine Arbeit, die in einem Stück gehört werden kann. Aus einem Text von Hildegard Westerkamp zu dieser Arbeit:

"Radio hat die Möglichkeit, viele Türen zu neuen oder zu alten Klangwelten zu öffnen. Die knarrende quitschende Tür des Hörspiels führt uns in das Unheimliche. Eine Tür führt uns in die Wildnis, wieder eine andere zum Bahnhof, auf die Straße, an einen Bach auf einen anderen Kontinent. Oder einfach in die Welt der akustischen Einbildungskraft. Radio kann überall hinlauschen. "Türen der Wahrnehmung" ist ein Radiomärchen, das auszog, um das Horchen zu lernen. Es lädt zum Horchen ein, ganz egal, ob an der Bushaltestelle, zu Hause, beim Einkaufen oder an der Arbeit."
(Hildegard Westerkamp)