HELLA LUX is a German artistic collective that creates new formats for an intergenerational audience. They created OUTandDOORS, a 45-minute site-specific audiowalk where, guided by an uncertain narrator, the audience will move through the city while listening to a global choir of voices.
Haifa. Latitude: 32.794044. Longitude: 34.999167.
Chemnitz. Latitude: 50.83307933214429. Longitude: 12.921116070162451.
Chongqing. Latitude: 29.55761526157788: Longitude: 106.57740658538633.
What would happen if you could be in Haifa, Chongqing and Chemnitz at the same time? Would you feel lost? Or home? Would you compare what you perceive? How do you perceive the space you are in: What does this market smell like? Where do those people go, why do they hurry? And what about Reading, Palermo or Chiba… do these places remind you of something? Oh, be careful, there are bicycles along this way!
In the 45-minute audiowalk OUTandDOORS, a peculiar voice addresses the listeners and guides them through their surroundings in the cities of Düsseldorf and Chemnitz in Germany. The jointly produced audiowalk explores public space(s) and encourages the listeners to stroll through the city while secretly observing strangers from a distance, recognizing patterns and the joy of the little moments of everyday life all across the world while diving deeper into the concept of the outdoors. The audiowalk literally puts perspectives and moments from all over the world on public space into the listeners’ ears. I see a street in Palermo, with little ones using chalk to draw on the pavement. People barbecuing in Chongqing in the middle of a roundabout. No cars, more green, more space to play. What could and would you play here, if you had the space?
By including different international perspectives on public spaces, OUTandDOORS illuminates the often self-evident of our everyday surroundings: We are behaving in structures, moving in patterns and walking on lines. The audiowalk wants to show different perspectives on the listeners’ surroundings by touching topics such as CCTV surveillance, sustainable urban planning and the different laws and norms that shape public spaces in different countries. The audiowalk deals with the fact that urban spaces come with rules and borders, visible and invisible lines that lead people’s paths through a space that first appeared open and borderless, by fictionalizing experiences narrated by a dubious time and space traveling voice. As in OUTandDOORS fiction and realities intertwine, listeners lose their sense of direction. Take a look at the sky. Look closer. Can you see the drone?
A Creation By and with Young Creatives
The audiowalk for audiences from 12 years resulted from the second version of an annual international, collaborative programme by HELLA LUX. For OUTandDOORS, we worked together with young creatives between the ages of 18 and 30 coming from 8 countries and 9 cities all across the world – Chiba, Reading, Warsaw, Moscow, Düsseldorf, Chongqing, Chemnitz, Haifa and Palermo.
In digital Zoom sessions, the participants learnt about storytelling, sound design as well as working in an international collaborative project. Throughout the programme, they were encouraged to do field recordings, scene writing and sound editing. In close exchange, we have created material that builds up the core of the audiowalk OUTandDOORS. In the further realization of the audiowalk, the team of HELLA LUX scripted scenes that include original field and voice recordings of the participants as well as a narrator’s voice that guide the listeners’ through the urban space. We were very happy to collaborate with our long-term partner Petya Alabozova as the narrator’s voice.
Easy Handling and Binaural Listening
In collaboration with the German Startup Storydive, OUTandDOORS is installed in an easy to use audioplayer, that guides the listeners after pressing the play button intuitively through their city – no advanced technological knowledge needed. This makes the audiowalk accessible for a broader audience: for young and old participants, students and workers, culture nerds, audio fans, urban explorers, gamers, people who have always lived in their city and want to discover it in a new way as well as people who are new to town and want to get to know it in an interactive way.
For the sound part of OUTandDOORS, HELLA LUX has collaborated with long term partner and sound designer Rupert Jaud, who has produced a 360° binaural listening experience. Up and down, near and far as well as across the whole globe – all these dimensions are layered upon the surrounding world by spatial soundscapes. The sounds of the audiowalk melt into the sounds of the city and create an Auditive Augmented Reality that lets the walking listeners get immersed by the cosmos of OUTandDOORS.
Further Digital Collaborations – and COVID-19
Even before the pandemic, HELLA LUX was aware of how potent and relevant the digital space is for sharing and creating together – especially for future creatives. With workshop formats, artistic and technical input and specific seminar structures, HELLA LUX makes it possible to create together online. With this approach, the collective has already realized the international short film TOGETHER APART as well as this audiowalk.
The audiowalk OUTandDOORS was produced while most public in the world were locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside movements were highly restricted. Due to reduced in person contact, the public space of the world wide web became even more important and for a global group of young creatives it became clear that one does not have to travel far to gain new perspectives. We are very pleased to provide an audio experience that can recreate one’s idea about public space with perspectives from all over the world. OUTandDOORS can be adapted to more cities, we would be happy to collaborate with cultural agents from our partner cities and above.
OUTandDOORS Düsseldorf is funded by Fonds Darstellende Künste mit Mitteln des Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien as well as the Farmont Foundation. OUTandDOORS Chemnitz is funded by Kleinprojekteförderung of the city of Chemnitz.
For a full list of contributors and credits, visit the OUTandDOORS page, here on walk · listen · create.
This text is the second in a series of the artists shortlisted for the Sound Walk September 2022 Awards talking about their work.