The Lunar System Sound Collage

∞ “The Lunar System Sound Collage” – Hanna Mattes & David Rothenberg (2021)

The Lunar System Sound Collage is a sound and poetry collaboration between musician and philosopher David Rothenberg and myself, visual and performance artist Hanna Mattes. After having worked on several sound pieces remotely for a year – him in New York, me in Berlin – we finally had the chance to meet and record in person. The Lunar System Sound Collage is the result of an improvised recording session in Berlin in the summer of 2021 using instruments we found in the studio, but also pre-recorded hydrophone sounds from Upstate New York ponds, put together with the texts of my artist book The Lunar System (2019, K. Verlag).

Our first collaboration, Take Me To That Landscape, came about as a purely online work. During lock down in 2020 and 2021, David recorded sounds during his long walks in upstate New York, dangling his microphone into ponds that are inhabited by the tiniest invisible creatures moving their limbs in rhythmical, recordable frequencies, or holding it into the wind on a triangular mountain top. I, 4000 miles to his east, was writing about my longing to be part of this air of adventure, while actually being stuck in one place, impossible to work or think together. Unable to see, hear, or touch each other in the real world, we tried everything to break through the ‘meaninglessness’ of nature to find truth, beauty, and contact in a world where invisible species are constantly trying to lure us beyond our mere humanity in this troubled, uncertain world. Take Me To That Landscape found its first audience during a one hour radio show on Montez Press Radio in November of 2020 and will be released as a book and record in 2022.

Visual and performance artist Hanna Mattes deals in fantastical astronomy, mapping out her aesthetic inventions across analogue photography, video, painting, and spoken word poetry. In locations ranging from Chile, to New York, to the darkroom, Mattes’s work honors the secret, the undefinable, and the mysterious nested in the experience of life in our ever-shifting world. She has exhibited and held artist residencies across the globe. With K. Verlag in 2019, Mattes published The Lunar System, her second photo book.

David Rothenberg is a musician, philosopher, and a Distinguished Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Examining the relation between nature and humanity across a variety of different scopes, Rothenberg’s prolific body of work includes recent books Nightingales in Berlin (2019) and The Possibility of Reddish Green (2020). As a composer and jazz clarinetist, he has played alongside Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, and Ray Phiri, among others. His book Why Birds Sing (2006) was published across Europe and Asia, and turned into a feature length documentary. “Among the Nightingales in Berlin,” an essay by Rothenberg, will be published in K. Verlag’s forthcoming intercalations 6: These Birds of Temptation.