How do you transform an installation originally intended to capture “echoes” of 18th century Aarhus, to capture the sounds of a present-day Aarhus neighborhood? By developing the sound archive of "Ekkomaten" in collaboration with the residents of Møllevangen, Morten Breinbjerg and Jonas Fritsch framed Ekkomaten with a new narrative, and in a new social setting.
In March of 2012, Aarhus residents had the opportunity to hear “echoes” of 18th century Aarhus by navigating with Ekkomaten. The installation reappeared on Friday, October 11th, this time in the neighborhood of Møllevangen, with a sound archive reflecting the local soundscape. Throughout the past year, the project participants and area residents worked on the sound archive to create a new version of Ekkomaten. Sound recorders were distributed to area residents, who were asked to capture the sounds of their neighborhood. As a result, the archive contained sounds that the residents liked or disliked, such as the sounds of a helicopter, playground, or doorbells, as well as allegorical sounds, everyday sounds, and interviews with area residents. In this way, people could navigate and listen to the sounds of their neighborhood by pointing Ekkomaten at the sources of the sounds. An extra layer, consisting of random interviews or stories told by the area residents, overlay the sound archive.
Morten Breinbjerg notes that having the area residents participate in the collection of sounds made the sound archive very space-specific, intimate, and personal, and thereby, Ekkomaten became an interface for the stories and social values of the local community. Whereas the Ekkomaten staged for the 18th century festival was a professional production, the new version represents a current and “raw” investigation of Møllevangen. Morten Breinbjerg hopes that Ekkomaten will facilitate discussion and debate about the past, present, and future status of Møllevangen.
Ekkomaten is still being developed, and the test-run in Møllevangen was the first experiment in articulating space-specific design fiction. The next step will be to investigate how Ekkomaten and context-specific sound archives can communicate the great diversity of various Danish neighborhoods.
Read more about Ekkomaten here.