The Sea—Sounds & Storytelling II

Fischgeist (fish spirit), 2020

Tomoko Sauvage (JP)

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Fischgeist was recorded in a disused water tank in Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin in August 2019. The nineteenth-century brick building is made up of five layered circles with a spiral staircase in the middle leading up to an exit to a hilltop. Inside, it’s humid and cold, the temperature always around 8–10 degrees Celsius. The building’s acoustics produce a long reverberation that lasts up to twenty seconds. “One day between recording sessions, a man, a passerby, wanted to look inside the building. He told me that it used to be full of fish. For a second, I imagined a huge round aquarium with loads of fish swimming around in circles. Then I realized that he meant dead fish were kept there, to be sold on markets during the GDR era. But the image of fish swimming in the space stayed with me,” recounts Sauvage. Working in the space of the water tank, Sauvage searches beyond the limits of her self-invented “natural synthesizers”: porcelain and glass bowls filled with water and amplified with hydrophones that combine with delicate gestures to make curious noises: stroking the bowls’ surfaces to imitate the voices of sea mammals, drawing dots and circles by rubbing stones against stones underwater. Animated by formless matter – water, electricity, sound – Fischgeist celebrates a phantasmagoric journey, as the souls of aquatic lifeforms find their way out of the labyrinth of the water tank.

Tomoko Sauvage: Tomoko Sauvage was born in Yokohama, Japan, moved to Paris after studying jazz piano in New York. Over the past decade, she has been working on “natural synthesizer” of her invention—waterbowls combining water, ceramics, and hydrophones (underwater microphones).


Composed, performed and mixed by Tomoko Sauvage Recorded and produced by bohemian drips for Speicher festival, Berlin, August 2019 | Binaural recording with a KU 100 dummy head microphone Mastered by Andreas Kauffelt in Berlin Cover drawings by Baien Mōri (1798–1851) For the 2021 Ars Electronica Garden festival, TBA21–Academy presents a selection of works resulting from The Sea—Sounds & Storytelling, a collaborative two-day program organized by the Centre culturel suisse (Paris), Istituto Svizzero (Rome), Institut Kunst (Basel), and TBA21–Academy and hosted by La Criée Théâtre in Marseille as part of Les Parallèles du Sud, an initiative by Manifesta 13 Marseille – The European Nomadic Biennial in 2020.