Spektrum is an independent art, science, and community space located in Berlin’s nerve center. It also happens to be in the area called ‘Kreuzkölln,’ which is the merging of Kreuzberg and Neukölln, where not all, but a good number of Berlin’s (non) Berliner artists live.
The physical space has its own special history. Bürknerstraße 12 was designed and created by expressionist architects Franz Hoffmann and Bruno Taut during the Weimer period. Thankfully, Alfredo Ciannameo and Lieke Ploeger - the brains and bodies behind this inimitable venue -were sensitive enough to utilize this rare architectural design.
Spektrum is divided in a peculiar way that makes you feel like you’ve entered some kind of occult underground society. Mismatched windows balance the exceptionally symmetrical space. The venue is split into multiple rooms and some rooms are split into multiple layers or, better yet, semi-layers. The blueprints of this place are just as unpredictable as the performances there.
One of the many objectives of Spektrum is to establish a serious platform where technology and science come together to deliver artistic concepts. Spektrum serves as a meeting point for artists to talk, research, and develop radical concepts into focused and quality projects. The concept of Spektrum emerged from the Netherland’s squat scene. The squat scene offered a hiding place to connect to other like-minded artists. At the time, rave and electronic music dominated this scene. Many of the artists living there began exploring technology from an experimental approach. Radical thinking buzzed through the scene and greatly influenced the creation of Spektrum. Some of the main objectives of Spektrum is to functions as a platform for quality projects and focused forward thinking.
Let us take you into an evening event. The event is called for 20:00, also known as 8:00PM. Alfredo, who is typically working the bar, will ink your hand, or wrist, or arm with an extra-large symmetrical entry stamp for the evening's event. The stamp might take some time to rinse off, but again that’s up to you and how well you wash (no judgments). When the event room is ready show your stamp and enter ‘the vault.’
Recently I went to a performance by Mario de Vega, Gerard Lebik, and Emilio Gordoa. For the record, I enter these performances with complete ignorance of whats about to go down. I’m aware that within the experimental scene most of the audience has minimal knowledge of what they’re about to see, but they most certainly have a more educated supposition than I do.
There’s little to no dialogue. The performance begins. Its called sound art, experimental music, noise; these are the closests generalizations I can use to define what’s materializing. You’ll see a single drum, but its given a new voice. It does not sing a song in the tone you used to hearing it hum. It is used as a stand for a new sound, sometimes an uncomfortable sound.
Unexpected objects are used to explore sounds and vibrations and frequencies in an electrifying way. The musician, the composer, the performer, however you want to define them, sit or stand behind a table reconstructing sound. The first performer takes out a violen bow but presses it to a new body. He’s not holding a violen in his hands but another object to sing a staggering sound.
We’re in a playground, exploring objects and sounds and vibrations. Materials and objects evolve and are redefined by the performer. The audience wears new ears for listening. Sometimes the pitch reaches afflictive levels. People in the audience cover their ears and I wonder if they’re trying to listen to the sound in an alternative way or if they are actually just distressed? The experience for me is a thrill, a brain tease. These sounds peirce so sharply through my mind that I no longer hear words and thoughts but unfamiliar sounds instead.
Throughout the three performances, each artist work from an undefinable sphere of sound. The audience acts as witnesses to the evolution of sound, the redefinition of how we listen. We’ve landed in an unexpected place. Language does not exist here yet and maybe it never will. These sounds become a language. The sounds become visual; Synethsetic. Distorted sounds begin to tell a story where you suddenly lose your own story, history, pressence. This is the usual strain of unusual events occuring in Spektrum. Spektrum offers Berliners an open meeting point where people can explore and experience art, science and technology in a serious way.