Symphony of Sirens

Of all the arts, music possesses the greatest power for social organization.      

                                                            Arseny Avaraamov, 1923           

Today 100 years ago women workers in Petrograd facotries laid down their work, because they didn’t have money to buy bread for their families anymore and thus finally brought about the break-through of the the Russian Revolution. It was still the beginning of the 20th century, nobody knew how devastating it would get, and so hopes were still high that a new man and a new woman would be born through the revolution. According to the Russian avant-gardists one of the most important means to accomplish this aim was sound, respectively acoustic experiments, mainly – noise.

For example Viktor Khlebnikov dreamt of a new, universal language, the so-called Zaum, and had incredible visions for the future of the by then brand new medium radio. Mikhail Matyushin, Aleksei Kurchenykh and Kazimir Malevitch composed a futuristic opera entitled Victory over the sun and even Dziga Vertov experimented with hearing and radio before he turned exclusively towards cinema. But probably the most extreme example for the combination of sound and revolution is Arseny Avraamov’s Symphony of Sirens, which was only performed twice: November 7, 1922, for the fifth anniversary of the Russian Revolution in Baku, an important seaport of Azerbaijan, and one year later in Moscow. 

Proletkult Composer Areseny Avraamov approximately in 1923

Writer and engineer Aleksei Gastev

Inspired by texts of the revolutionary poet and engineer Aleksei Gastev, Avaraamov used the whole city as an orchestra or as a „music box“, as German media archeologist Siegfried Zielinski calls it: Foghorns, 25 steam locomotives, hundreds of sirens and choirs with up to 1`000 singers collectively performed this Symphony of Sirens in honor of the Russian Revolution, while Avraamov was standing on a tower and conducting by waving flags. 

Arseny Avraamov conducting with flags 1922

FM Einheit conducting with flags 2017

Since then the Second World War, the Holocoust, the Atomic Bomb, the Gulag, the landing on the moon, the vanishing of the Soviet Union and many, many more things happend but neither the new Soviet man nor the new Soviet women, of whom the communists had dream, did show up. Performing the Symphony of Sirens almost 100 years later therefore of course cannot only be a sheer re-enactment but requires a reflection of the dissonance between the dreams back then and our reality in today’s very late cpatialism. Invited by the Brno Philharmonic in the South East of the Czeck Republic, the German noise musician FM Einheit and radioplay author Andreas Ammer came up with a very poignant and convincing adaption of Avraamov’s Symphony of Sirens.

On October 21, 2017 they performed it together with Byelorussian sax player and free jazzer Pavel Arakelian, the Austrian-Amercian tubist Jon Sass, the German percussionist Saskia von Klitzing, Siegfried Zielinski as the German performer of Avraamov and Ján Sedal as his Czeck translator. Instead of foghorns they used cleaning machines, concret mixers, two Harley Davidsons were driven through the hall full of audience, the fan club of Brno’s renowned ice hockey team Kometa was cheering, a choir sang The Internationale and La Marseillaise as well as different kinds of ambulance vehicles sounded their horns and sirens. In front of the hall 25 cannon balls were fired and a steam locomotive was whisteling:


Probably this was one of the most unique concerts I ever attended, regarding the degree of loudness but also because of the meaning of its noise. There was no utopian optimism to it anymore. It’s been an impressive mixture of disillusionment, despair, melancholia and uproar against unacceptable realities, a noisy bemoaning of all the victims and sacrifices that come with so-called capitalist progress. I wouldn’t call it a cathartic experience, rather a reminder why silence isn’t the only answer – despite John Cage’s precious inshights – and why noise still is and always will remain mandatory.

My compliments to all of the artists and especially also to Vítězslav Mikeš, Lukas Jirica and the whole team of the Brno Philharmonic for making this happen.

In case you missed it: Next year a recording of this performance will be broadcast on the radio by the department for radio drama at Bayerischer Rundfunk

Okwui Enwezor on „Aesthetics & Postcolonialism“

Before I left the drama department of Bayern2 Radio for working at the University of Basel and starting my PhD, I had the great pleasure to interview Okwui Enwezor, who had just become the director of Haus der Kunst in Munich. Tonight the interview from 2011 with interesting insights on growing up in Nigeria, being a young black man in the New York art scene in the 1980s and many more will be broadcast again. You can listen to the pocast here. (All dubbed in German)

Okwui Enwezor, director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Foto: Andreas Gebert

Okwui Enwezor, director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Foto: Andreas Gebert

The Answer


By Jean Jullien

Three days after the terror attacks in Paris, four days after the massacer which the suicide bombers caused in Beirut, in the middle of the biggest refugee track through Europe since World War II, during an evil war in Syria and daily terror in Israel, Iraq and so many other places since decades: I still feel speechless and deeply sad. On the contrary to so many politicians and demagogues and their immediate response to the terror attacks. All over the planet they seem to know the answers right away and cannot wait to spread their verbal build-up of arms via any channel of communication. But their hatred and racism, their cry for war and revenge is no answer. It never was and it never will be.


Tribunal & Clouds: GLOBALE @ ZKM

The  Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) Karlsruhe has opened again after several months of restoration. Within the next 300 days the festival GLOBALE will take place in the former ordnance factory: Many different exhibitions and symposia around the two main topics Infosphere and Exo-Evolution are in the making.

Real Cloud of Exo-Evolution by Transsolar - Foto: Harald Völkl, © ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie

Real Cloud of Exo-Evolution by Transsolar – Foto: Harald Völkl, © ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie

The guided tour through the two clouds – symbolizing Infosphere and Exo-Evolution – which Peter Weibel, manager of the ZKM and media artist, gave to me in advance for Deutschlandradio Kultur can be found here.

Peter Weibel, Vorstand und künstlerischer Leiter des ZKM © ZKM | Karlsruhe, 2014 Foto: Andy Ridder

Peter Weibel, manger and artistic director of  ZKM © ZKM | Karlsruhe, 2014 – Foto: Andy Ridder


Aliens, UFOs & Earthlings

Today the result of intensive research in the last weeks and months goes on air and online: My 28 minutes long radio feature „Von Aliens, UFOs und Erdlingen – Zur Kulturgeschichte der Außerirdischen“ will be broadcasted by the Swiss public radio station SRF 2 Kultur, afterwards being available as a podcast.

This production was only possible thanks to wonderful reasearchers like film scholar Simon Spiegel, astrophysicist Ben Moore, literature scholars Robert Stockhammer, Hania Siebenpfeiffer and Philipp Theisohn, ethnologist Alice Spinnler and numerous aliens. They are all featured in the show.


A big thanks also goes to all the others who helped and inspired my work along the way and openend my eyes for so many incredible creatures in and aspects of this universe. These selenites of The Great Moon Hoax from 1835 (see pic the right) are only one example.

A very special thanks goes to Philipp Theisohn and his team at the Swiss national research project „Conditio extraterrestris. The Inhabitated Galaxy as the Space of Literary Imagination and Communication (1600 – 2000)“ at the German Department of the University of Zurich.


Their amazing research projects probably bore me out the most that humankind is once again changing its sense of self and that we have to think and talk about it. Therefore I also portrayed Conditio extraterrestris additionally in a seperate article and broadcast.





25 years ago we skipped school and climbed on the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate. From up there we were looking down at armed GDR soldiers who didn´t know anymore what to do. One day before they still had the order to shoot anybody from the East who wanted to climb over the wall to the West. And now everyone from the East was allowed to cross the boarder freely and we, the people from the West, were climbing up on the wall  to celebrate freedom and the end of a dictatorship, to celebrate the success of the resistance movement and to welcome the people of the East. Very poignant memories.

Today there are still many walls in this world existing, separating and excluding people, between Palestine and Israel, between Mexico and the USA, last but not least on the outer boarders of the EU between Africa and Europe.


Bugs & Beasts & Beast: My first scientific publication on Hörspiel – in Portuguese.

I am very happy to announce, that my article „RUÍDO, PEÇA SONORA, RÁDIO EXTENDIDO“ just has been published by Polêm!ca Revista Eletrônica, the online-journal of the State University of Rio de Janero (UERJ). It is the extended version of a case study about the Hörspiel (radio play) „Bugs & Beats & Beasts“ by Andreas Ammer and Console, that I presented in September 2013 at the conferences „Noises of Art“ and „Radio Research 2013“ in GB. This Hörspiel plays an important role for the argumentation of my PhD thesis. My very special gratitude goes to Mauro José Sá Rego Costa, professor at the UERJ with special expertise in radio and media art: Mauro, thank you so much for your enthusiasm, your support and especially all the effort you went through in translating this! Bssssssssh.

Enjoy reading – and listening! I would be delighted to recieve some feedback about my ideas from Brazil – and everybody who understands Portuguese. But please, write in English to me!

Art under Mass Surveillance

„We may not abandon the place“ and „Never let them stop you from working“. These are the two most important advices, Julian Assange gave to the audience, when speaking via Skype from his room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for one hour to the about 100 people at the Helmhaus in Zurich in the evening of the 8th of March 2014.

Julian Assange via Skype ath the 8th of March 2014 at the Helmhaus Zurich. Credit:

Julian Assange via Skype ath the 8th of March 2014 at the Helmhaus Zurich. Photo: Dominik Landwehr Migros-Kulturprozent