1979: Silent Berlin


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On the opening night of this year’s KOSMOS Summer University at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (with my special focus on Dynamic & Sound) we learned many inspiring details about the historical trajectories and frictions concerning urban mobility in Berlin as presented by Christian Kassung and Wolfgang Schäffner; and whilst listening I remembered a documentary film from 1979 called Spreeufer in Süd-Ost (from a series called Berlinische Berichte, i.e. Reports from Berlin).

This feature film (as produced by Ingeborg Euler for German television ZDF) provides for us, 33 years later, an intense experience of how silent, empty, grey, maybe even eventless and depressing everyday life in those years, even in the Western parts of Berlin, would seem to us now – seen with the eyes and sensed with the sensorium of today.

The Schlesische Straße in Western Berlin – which the eye of the camera follows all along – was then closest to the Berlin Wall and it is by now, 2012, one of the most crowded and lively areas, day and night, with an endless series of clubs offering quite a large range of musical flavours and the inevitable bunch of international hostels: Die angesagteste Partymeile. Following the well-known trajectories of gentrification one important part of this area close to the river Spree has recently been offered and sold to loads of international and German investors to build a site called MediaSpree: a project which found strong opposition and protest as an example of selling out lightheartedly one of the territorial commons of the city of Berlin.

In the mash-up of this feature film I inserted below the Cologne-based DJ and minimal-techno-musician Falko Brocksieper chose to combine an extract of this film with a track (Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960) from Brian Eno’s 4th and final ambient music-album Ambient 4: On Land (many listeners are only aware of his first and seminal Ambient 1: Music for Airports from 1978): a track Brian Eno did record around those years in New York City as the feature film was shot and aired (between September 1978 and January 1982):

Direct Link: http://vimeo.com/15403526