BACKGROUND LISTENING POST: Inverting Stasi Surveillance Infrastructure
OCTOBER 12-17, 2010 | WERKLEITZ FESTIVAL, HALLE (SAALE), SAXONY-ANHALT, GERMANY
Like the landscape itself, this project can be approached from a multitude of directions. Focusing on a former Stasi telephone intercept station (the "listening post",) this project stems from the abandoned-in-place spy equipment within, conceptually following this phantom infrastructure outward, back into the fringe landscapes of Saxony-Anhalt. This county – once the agricultural and industrial core of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – lies south of Berlin, west of Leipzig, north of the Czech border, and east of the Harz mountains. Extending from this disused, remote station, I have mapped this hinterland, thereby constructing an index of photographs and field recordings of this territory of residual angst, investigating select sites that directly and indirectly relate to the spirit of this place. Some of these sites are documented and well known, others were discovered as acts of serendipity while in the field, their meaning and value only realized in context to the greater project. Others still are almost concealed places, barely hidden in plain sight. The audio recordings of these sites can be accessed in the field via hardware installed at the listening post on the southwest edge of Görzig, a small village 15 kilometers north of Halle (Saale). Accompanying this installation is an illustrated field guide / map which features a selection of sites– extrapolated from the vestigial remnants of a once-thriving network of surveillance. By taking this guide / map into the field and visiting these sites in-person, the tourist becomes a participant and performs an act of superimposing the current with the past, forming a layered visual and aural survey him/herself of this revelatory terrain. For those unable to travel to this corner of Germany with, this website will offer a simulacrum of the real aspect of the project. The locations, descriptions, photographs, and sound recordings of select sites can be accessed here in a variety of formats. How you use them – to reconstruct my experience, in the field, to extrapolate from this version of reality, and to form your own impression of these places – is up to you.