The piece „Karl Ortmann“ pays homage to the German cartographer from Ilmenau (*1817 - †1879). His life’s work consisted of finding a way to illustrate social structures of cities within the context of maps. According to his theories maps should reflect various aspects of the cohabitation of a city’s residents. Karl Ortmann described his research as follows: “Nicht bloß die leblose Materie der Gebäude und Straßen, die den sozialen Aspekt gänzlich negieren, sondern gerade das Zusammenspiel zwischen Wohnraum und Einkommensverhältnis, zwischen Wohndichte und gesellschaftlichem Stand der Bewohner sollen erhellt werden.” *   Karl Ortmann remained unknown during his lifetime and it is just by chance that we know of his concepts that were never realised.
    Our piece is exclusively made of sounds of the city of Karlsruhe (southern Germany), recorded during one week in September 2005. A central structural element for us was a set of recordings we made during the night before (and the morning of) the German polling day in 2005. For approximately twelve hours, we recorded three minutes of audio every thirty minutes, using two microphones set up on a balcony in a residential area. These recordings were cut together, leaving their chronological order (and the sound quality) unchanged. This artificial soundscape is playing throughout the piece with one short interruption. Sometimes inaudible, sometimes present as a main element it structures the piece. Other recordings we used were made during daytime in different parts of the city (e.g. noise of streetcars, people playing basketball, sounds in a park etc). Next we started to create sound processing tools to use in COOPER, especially designed to fit our needs for a social-cartographic sound: a grid filter, a special granular tool etc. The recordings were then processed and structured with COOPER’s meta-parameter control feature. This way we obtained new aspects of the original recordings, resulting in a range of sound material reaching from pure and recognisable to extremly artificial and abstract sounds.
    Our intention was to create a moment in which the listener would realise the urban origin of the sound material, a moment where the space (both the concert room and the room of the speakers) breaks open and it becomes impossible to determine whether a certain sound is a plain recording or a processed one and whether it is happening in- or outside the concert room.
    The whole piece could be described as a non-linear accumulative process of recorded sound components. The last few minutes of the piece are almost pure unprocessed soundscapes from the residential area, enriched with only very few processed sounds.  Apart from the fact that even a plain recording of reality does not necessarily represent reality, the possibility that the recordings (or even more) are actually faked could arise.

 * „Not only the matter of buildings and streets, entirely negating the social aspects, but the combination of living space and status of income, the combination of population density and the status in society of the dwellers should be explored.” From: Ortmann, Karl: Eine Einführung in die Sozialkartographie, Dresden 1864, S. 294.

first performance was at the turning sounds festival in warsaw, 25.09.2005