Alexander Johannes Heil

November 2023

Residency in collaboration with FIELDSTATIONS - "Fieldexplorer Programme"

Info on the Residency Programmes

The Whalesong Project

Sonic Agency of Architectures - Berlin

Making Music with Six Monumental Buildings

Geo-Located Spatial Composition à la Musique Concrète


Alles ist anders


alles ist am
vergehen in einem
ständigen isolierten

Berlin Mitte, Unter Den Linden

Ich kann keinen persönlichen Bezug zu den “grossen Bauwerken” spüren.
War der Kaiser so ein toller Mensch, sodass man das Berliner Schloss wieder aufbauen musste? Alles Hier steht solitär und weit
Die “grossen Bauwerke” genau wie die Menschen.
Ich bekomme kein Gefühl von Stadt, von Dichte, von Geborgenheit.
Eher fühle ich mich verloren, unsicher, haltlos
Was soll ich mit diesen Gebäuden anfangen?
Sie und die Gesellschaft, die Werte, die Welt für die sie stehen,
welche sie repräsentieren
Haben nichts mit meiner Gesellschaft, meinen Werten, meiner Welt zu tun.

Was sagen uns die Gebäude?

Methodology and Infos

Making Music With Six Monumental Buildings is a geo-located composition à la musique conrète. The center point of each circle (see map) represents the position of a field recorder that was positioned in 6 monumental buildings at the Museums Insel Berlin. Each circle represents one audio file, respectively building. The audio files (see waveforms) are recordings of precisely 1 hour per building, from midnight to 1 AM.

Using the free smartphone app ECHOES and a set of (open) headphones, the audience can experience the composition on location and in the presence of the buildings. Thereby, the intensity of the recordings constantly varies in real time depending on the listener's position in relation to the buildings. Thus, a unique composition and experience emerges each time the audio walk is visited.

Buildings corresponding to the order of waveforms: Altes Museum Berlin (inner portico), Berliner Dom (center under dome), Deutsches Historisches Museum (Schlüterhof), Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (choir), Neues Museum Berlin (Ägyptischer Hof), former Staatsratsgebäude der DDR (State Dining Room).

«As a particle of the atmosphere is never lost, so sound is never lost. A strain of music or a simple tone will vibrate in the air forever and ever, decreasing according to a fixed ratio. The diffusion of the agitation extends in all directions, like the waves in a pool, but the ear is unable to detect it beyond a certain point. It is well known that some individuals can distinguish sounds which to others under precisely similar circumstances are wholly lost. Thus the fault is not in the sound itself, but in our organ of hearing, and a tone once in existence is always in existence.»

Florence McLandburgh, The Automaton Ear

The Whalesong Project Berlin | Photographic Essay


Literature | Inspiration | Reflection

-Steve Goodman, Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear, The MIT Press 2009
Jonathan Crary, 24/7, Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, Verso 2014
-Alexander Johannes Heil, “Substanzraum, A New Approach To Global Space”, self-published on own website, 2020
-Pierre Schaeffer, Treatise on Musical Objects, An Essay across Disciplines, University of California Press 2017
-Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of The City, The MIT Press 1982
-Georges Perec, Träume von Räumen, Diaphanes 2013
-Florence McLandburgh, The Automaton Ear, and Other Sketches, Jansen, McClurg & Co 1876
-Rosa Hartmut, Unverfügbarkeit, Residenz Verlag 2021

Bio | Artist Statement

I am a German conceptual artist, architectural designer, and researcher based in The Hague. I received my B.Sc. Architecture with a focus on architectural design and architecture theory from the Technical University in Berlin, where I graduated in 2017 with my thesis project Metaphysics of Architecture, Experiences of an Architecture Student. The work explored analogies between natural and architectural elements, structures, and spaces such as trees and columns; caves and vaults; mountains and buildings. It has been a phenomenological journey which led me from Berlin throughout many places in Italy and back to Berlin. After my graduation, I further developed my artistic practice and research, now focussing more and more on the space between the (architectural/natural) objects and structures which constitute them.

During my studies at the ArtScience Interfaculty, I further developed my abilities to listen to spaces. 2020 I graduated with a M.Mus ArtScience from the Royal Conservatory with my thesis project Substanzraum – A New Approach To Global Space. The project focussed on space itself and the global atmospheric body we live in as a fluid dynamic body comprised of substances which make up things and beings, such as us humans. Just like Metaphysics of Architecture, it is a body of work inspired by philosophical thoughts about the relations between natural and artificial (architectural) space and the human within. The body of work promotes the global atmospheric habitat as one spatial body in which processes of transformation, migration, transition, decay and emergence constantly take place and thus connect all living and non-living matter on this planet.

My studies during this period changed my perspective from seeing space as something to use at will into an entity to listen and react to even further. I have become someone who is not filling space with things but rather embracing space to leave it as it is and emphasise its existence as such and the characteristics I discover during my “space explorations”.

My work oscillates between metaphysics and phenomenology; abstraction and specification. Thereby, I work conceptual and independent of media. The themes are usually subjective findings of analogies of space- and object-typologies in the field of tension within the diversity of forms of architecture and nature – “A tree is a column, is a pilar” (Metaphysics of Architecture 2017).

These investigations aim to create new “I-you relationships” – "I am you” (Substanzraum 2020) – which result exclusively from a logic of perception of the observed aesthetics and thus reconfigure our human being in relation to the environment.

Alexander Johannes Heil's WEBSITE