VERGEHEN is an opera you walk. To experience it, you download an app (Android or iOS). The GPS receiver lets your smartphone know where you are in the world. As an app, “Vergehen” uses this information to play site-specific music. More about the project here: >>>
VERGEHEN takes place at the Munich river Isar. Why at this very place?
The Isar river and especially this walk along the Auer Mühlbach and over the Kabelsteg have accompanied and shaped my whole life. Just as the water flows down the Isar – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot – life goes its way. Moments connect with the Isar, every new walk brings back memories of the past. I wanted to make this process tangible in a poetic way.
How did you get the idea?
In 2012 and 2014 the National Opera Montpellier invited me to premiere two Grand Operas there. These were overwhelming and great experiences. From these impressions grew the need to make the opera experience tangible outside the opera house. In July 2015, the short opera VIOLA was created at Bahnhofplatz Pasing, which was continued in September 2016 at Münchner Freiheit with KATHARINA. A third part is scheduled for June 2017 at the Kunsthalle München, for which financing is currently still lacking. What particularly interests me about these works is to transform the public space into an artistic space by means of musical intervention.
Designing an opera as an app for the smartphone goes one step further. In addition to the spatial separation from the opera house, I detach myself from a schedule. The opera as an app is available at any time and hopefully for a long time in the future. Nevertheless, I am installing an artificial shortage here: you have to walk the opera yourself. Just as one must first move to the opera house in order to be moved by the music, one must first set oneself in motion here. I believe that games like Pokemon Go also draw their fun from this. If you just loll about in the sofa, you just don’t experience anything.
The declared aim of the app is to help the listener implant conscious memories. Have you already received feedback on how this perception experiment actually affects individual listeners?
Well, that’s not necessarily the goal of the app, but the utopian goal of the communications industry. The fictitious template for the VERGEHEN libretto comes from the film ‘Project Brainstorm’, which I devoured several times as a child. The Munich writer Benjamin Stein also takes up the idea of a thought recorder in his novel ‘Replay’, i.e. a machine that allows subjective experience to be stored in such a way that it can be directly played back into consciousness in such a way that the repetition of the experience no longer differs from the original experience. This is the great utopia, because so far we have had to laboriously translate our experiences into language, art and music in order to make them communicable. That would no longer be necessary with such a machine. Whether one really wants this is one of the questions that VERGEHEN asks.
How did the text come about? What motivated you to do this project? A conversation with Martin Bürkl (German):
Thanks to Martin Bürkl from Bayerischer Rundfunk for the interview!