Back to All Events

Helen Mirra & Ernst Karel

Iaspis and Audiorama present:

Helen Mirra and Ernst Karel: Swiss Mountain Transport Systems

Helen Mirra is currently a grant holder at Iaspis. Together with Ernst Karel, she will present Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, multi-channel version at Audiorama. The audio composition has been specifically adapted for Audiorama’s unique 21-speaker system. It is constructed of unprocessed, long-take location recordings and percussion. The piece is 68 minutes, and will be repeated through the scheduled time period; the listening room may be entered at any time.

This work was presented in an 8-channel version at Diapason Gallery, New York, in January 2011, and is scheduled to be presented at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, in November 2011, in conjunction with an exhibition of Mirra’s which she is completing while a guest of Iaspis. The date of this presentation at Audiorama on 1 September 2011 also coincides with the release of Karel’s stereo CD containing only the transport recordings, also unprocessed and unmanipulated, with each track corresponding simply to a particular journey.  The CD Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, is being released on Gruenrekorder.

Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, multi-channel version is an audio composition adapted specifically for Audiorama’s unique 21-speaker system (17 discrete channels, and four subwoofers), constructed of unprocessed, long-take location recordings and percussion.

In 2008, while Helen Mirra was living in Basel, Switzerland, on a year-long artist residency, her practice shifted into walking, and making work through this walking. While in residence this summer with Iaspis, she has been walking in and around Stockholm, for example in the Tyresta National Park, and making prints along the way. In Switzerland, walking meant hiking on mountain trails, and getting to the trails meant travelling from Basel not only by train but usually by some form of transportation specific to mountainous regions: gondolas, funiculars, and chairlifts, collectively known as Bergbahnen, or mountain transport systems.

When Mirra’s partner, musician and audio recordist Ernst Karel, joined her for the summer and fall, during the first hike they took together, they were struck by the sounds of these machines in the cultural and geographical context of rural Switzerland. Mirra plotted out the geological and geographic regions of Switzerland in which she wanted to walk, and Karel cross-referenced this with information about where particularly interesting Bergbahnen could be found. Over the course of frequent walks in the mountains in different parts of Switzerland, Karel recorded the various transport systems which are specific to mountainous terrain -- gondolas, funiculars, and chairlifts -- of different types, of different vintages, and accessing different elevations.  The careful recordings, made from within these mostly enclosed mobile environments, reveal quasi-harmonic mechanical drones, intermittent irregular percussiveness, and transient acoustic glimpses of a vast surrounding landscape inhabited by humans and other animals.

The project builds on a performance that Mirra and Karel gave in January 2009 at Taka Ishii Gallery, in Kyoto, Japan, in the context of Mirra’s exhibition, Case study: Swiss bird houses. For that live performance, Mirra played drums with Karel doing a live mix of unprocessed recordings of the mountain transport systems. To make this multi-channel version, Mirra subsequently recorded the percussion parts in the studio using multiple microphones in multiple configurations. The minimal percussion activates and modifies the contours of the listening space, as it contrasts with, complements, interrupts, and augments the sounds of transport.

Iaspis is the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s international programme for practitioners in the areas of visual art, design, craft and architecture. Our mission is to enable artists in Sweden to develop artistically as well as expanding their international viewpoint by establishing international contacts between individual practitioners and institutions. Iaspis has a residency programme and a public programme of lectures, seminars and exhibitions both in Sweden and abroad.


Helen Mirra och Ernst Karel presenterar ljudverket Swiss Mountain Transport Systems i en multi-channel-version som specifikt anpassats för Audioramas unika högtalarsystem med 21 högtalare. 

Helen Mirra är stipendiat på Iaspis. På Audiorama kommer hon tillsammans med Ernst Karel at presentera ljudverket Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, multi-channel version som specifikt anpassats för Audioramas unika högtalarsystem med 21 högtalare. Ljudkonstverket har konstruerats av långa obearbetade upptagningar av ljudmiljöer och slagverk. Konstverkets totala längd är 68:30 min och det kommer att upprepas under den utsatta tiden; rummet kan besökas när som helst under kvällen.

Konstverket presenterades i en 8-kanals version på Diapason Gallery, New York, i januari 2011 och kommer att presenteras på KW Institute for Contemporary Art i Berlin, i november 2011, i samband med en utställning av of Mirra som hon arbetat med under sin tid på Iaspis. Ljudinstallationen på Audiorama den 1 september 2011 sammanfaller med släppet av Karel’s stereo CD med de obearbetade upptagningarna av transporter, där varje spår motsvarar en färd. CDn Swiss Mountain Transport Systems kommer att släppas på Gruenrekorder.

Iaspis är Konstnärsnämndens internationella program för yrkesverksamma utövare inom bildkonst, design, konsthantverk och arkitektur. Iaspis uppdrag är att utveckla kontakter mellan konstnärer i Sverige och aktörer på den internationella arenan och på så sätt bidra till konstnärlig fördjupning och förbättrade arbetsvillkor. 

Running time: 68:30

The cast, in order of appearance: 
Wengernalp – cogwheel railway
Männlichen – Grindelwald – 4-seat gondola, 1978
Fräkmuntegg – Pilatus Kulm – 4-seat gondola, 1996, orig 1954
Simplon Pass – helicopter
Maschgenkamm – Obertetzen – 4-seat gondola, 1966
Obertetzen – Untertetzen – 8-seat gondola, 2005, orig 1955
Scuol – Motta Naluns – 4-seat gondola, 1978
Motta Naluns – Scuol  
Dallenwil – Wiesenberg – 4-seat aerial tramway [Pendelbahn] 1934



Earlier Event: July 30
Norbergfestival 2011
Later Event: September 11
En tisdag i september