Gone to Ground
Site-specific playable composition for sonic biking (2016)
July 16, 2016, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany
“Gone to Ground” is a site-specific, playable composition for sonic biking that invites the rider to tap into the different and simultaneous modes of experiencing the Tiergarten. This ground and these trees have taken on different meanings through the ages. As the aristocratic hunting grounds, it was once a place of killing, excitement, threat, and display of the power of these men and of man’s power over nature. The forest was experienced as a place of danger, as in the stories of the brothers Grimm. Now the Tiergarten is a place for leisure, a beautiful and peaceful refuge. But vestiges of these former lives of the park still live in this space and, in various ways, in our experiences of it. “Gone to Ground” invites the rider to tap into how they experience the Tiergarten today, while also resurrecting the forgotten meanings these grounds have taken in the past, of course still leaving room for play.
The piece was made using the Sonic Bike system as developed by Kaffe Matthews and the Bicrophonics Institute. Battery-powered stereo speakers and a small subwoofer are affixed to a bicycle, as well as a small computer with a GPS tracker. Via a browser-based interface, sounds are mapped to specified geographical areas. When the rider enters that area, the corresponding sound file begins to play, and when she leaves it, the sound stops. The piece is interactive and installative, as the cyclist controls the length and order of the piece by the speed and route of cycling.
Sounds relating to the appearance and history of their zones were used. Historical recordings of Foxhunting horn calls and the barking of hunting hounds were juxtaposed with original recordings and synthesized sounds which reflected the atmosphere of the space in which they were heard. In this way, the idyllic present was juxtaposed and often loudly interrupted by the violent past of the place.