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Noises for Ritual Architecture - Dornbracht Culture Projects

COLOGNE.-As one of its Culture Projects, Dornbracht is unveiling the first collection of sounds for ritual architecture in the bathroom. With ritual architecture, Dornbracht is opening up the way to a new mindset: It conceives of people as ‘bathroom dwellers’ – and not just as ‘bathroom users’. This creates a new function for the bathroom – as a habitat people can consciously experience. It fosters qualities that go far beyond the purely physical satisfaction of needs – qualities that transcend mere washing. These demands are reflected in bathroom architecture, design and materials. The bathroom thus creates an opportunity to define a new, immaterial approach to luxury. The luxury of a single, daily retreat where body, spirit, and soul can be rediscovered.

In addition to the work of pure product development, inspirations for this new direction can also be found in the lead bathrooms created for certain product themes. 2003 MEM – The ritualised ego-bath, oriented entirely around contemplation. 2006 Tara.Logic – the next step from the Private Spa to the Active Spa and 2007 ELEMENTAL SPA– a bathroom that places prime focus on water, with fittings that evoke the grace of springs, marking the watering places within the room. They are the origin of the architecture. The bathroom as a sanctuary for the soul.

The ‘Noises for Ritual Architecture’ soundscapes reflect the relationship between the space, the materiality and the movement within the MEM, TARA LOGIC and ELEMENTAL SPA. The range is being presented for the first time as part of a Sound Spa, on the premises of the factory of Mike Meiré responsible for the culture projects.

‘Noises 1 MEM’ is a tribute to the Muses Aoide, Mneme and Melete, the Muses of song, memory and meditation, Music is manifested more in the contours of possibility than in the contours of form. What remain are memory, expansiveness and ease. In the MEM architecture, the physical materiality of the fittings ebbs away, leaving the room as the focus of attention. Carlo Peters’ composition picks up on the spiritual energies contained in this room, creating a swaying carpet of sound from one single slow vibration and, over this ground, setting up an interplay of numerous natural sounds with digital clicks, noises and streams.

‘Noise 2 Logic’: the sound composition for the TARA LOGIC architecture focuses on the parameters of activity/exertion, strength and movement. Here the music is perhaps best understood as a ‘soundtrack’ in a literal sense. The wave band becomes a moving walk: Like exercise carried out indoors or an accelerated pulse, the first segment, ‘Amber Glass’, is based on repetitive patterns in which pulsing timbres create a sustained freshness. In a percussive way, material is whisked away to a trance-like state before it dematerialises itself, lifts off and, in 255.230.2 [a yellow], attains an intermediate level that resembles a dreamlike departure lounge. This journey with the mechanics of one’s own body is a fresh comes to an end in a renewed arrival in a calmer, a more careful, a gentler state.

The titles of the three pieces of ‘Noise 3 Elemental’ are different ways of referring to the chemical element copper, which dominates the surfaces in ELEMENTAL SPA. ‘Cyprium 10834’ contains the Latin name and the boiling point of the material, ‘Ybergangsmetalle’ is the Old German name for the cupreous metals in the period system, whereas the last title, ‘Copper Acetate’, refers to verdigris and consequently plays on the potentially changeable nature of the substance, which forms part of the material concept. The tripartite nature of the composition can also be understood as an analogy for passing through the various stages of cleansing: The piece begins with entry to the spectacular world of Elemental Spa, as the harsh impressions of everyday life arise out of a deep and powerful sonic movement. The theme of the middle section is the encounter with the water. Through the music, the listening ear becomes the part of the body touched by the water. Yet the surrounding materials become audible as well, with the steel and copper beginning to vibrate and seeming to twist around the ear.

When linked with the third, spherical section, a transformative transition can be ascertained: whilst the struggle with mysterious and dark elements is at first closed in as an integral part of the cleansing process, the perspective then opens up; at the end, the spatial and audio impression is surrounded by the vastness of a cosmos.

The material edition of the CDs on which the ‘Noises’ appear is closely linked with their point of departure: the ritual architectures. Still, allowance is made for the independence of the sphere of sound: The poster enclosed with each CD shows, within the MEM, a digital collage of an excerpt of the atrium housing the paradisiacal garden, a garden that is itself digitally distorted. For Elemental, at the same position, colour and surface impressions from the ‘Elemental Spa’ were graphically blended into one another. LOGIC is the poster of the media wall, showing a projection of digitised water. The covers themselves feature abstract representations of the various modules of the bathroom architecture and their spatial arrangement. These geometries act as icons, making them the basic molecular building blocks, as it were, both of the music and of the multimedia production by Jens-Oliver Gasde. This iconisation makes clear: While the view of sound and space within the scope of the project is admittedly shaped, in part, by the insights of Brian Eno, the ‘inventor’ of ambient, into musical philosophy and the philosophy of perception, there is still a new task at hand: Music for Airports, for instance, the style-setting LP released by Brian Eno in 1978, is oriented around an imagined, virtual space, filled, in a model approach, with a quality hitherto absent, while the Noises derive an image of sound from a very specific space and proceed to draw upon the course of various rituals in a variety of existing material worlds. As a result of this very move, both sound and moving image can ask questions about the unseen: they remain abstract and diffuse at the same time, palpable and yet not entirely tangible.

NOISES FOR RITUAL ARCHITECTURE was instigated by Mike Meiré. The sound collages of Cologne composer Carlo Peters represent the relationship between space, materiality and movement in ritual architecture and were produced by NEO NOTO, Cologne. Computer-generated animation by Jens-Oliver Gasde completes the production in the SoundSpa. ‘Noises for Ritual Architecture’ is available exclusively through the iTunes Store. During the presentation on the occasion of the Passagen, the SoundSpa will be complemented by a walk-through, pneumatic foyer by Plastique Fantastique (

As a current contribution to the Dornbracht Edges, Noises for Ritual Architecture is the continuation of a series that collects projects at the interface of architecture, design and art. The Edges are platforms, especially for designers and architects, who depict their visions and utopias. Thus in 2001, internationally renowned architects such as David Adjaye and Claudio Silvestrin developed their ideas of the bathroom of the future in ‘Bath modules’. In 2003 Matali Crassat provided a poetic new interpretation of the bathroom in ‘Update / three Spaces in one’, and 2004/2005 the Dornbracht Research Unit ETH Zurich under Prof. Dr. Marc Angéli looked at the acts of cleansing and care from the point of ritual and their ‘Production of space’. Mike Meiré himself created a futuristic “wash-plant” for people in 2004, the “E-R-S – Energetic Recovery System”, which clea

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