About „Noises for Ritual Architecture“

Mike Meiré, (*1964) works and lives in Cologne with his wife and three children. In 1987 he founded the agency Meiré und Meiré together with his brother Marc and in 2001 he established the cultural production company NEO NOTO.

Having a great deal of experience with crossover projects, Mike Meiré constantly switches between the roles of brand and art director, designer and artist.

Interview with Mike Meiré, Brand Director Dornbracht

Tobias Ruderer: When did a concern for music or sound become a part of your work for Dornbracht?

Mike Meiré: The first approach occurred in the year 2000. It was during Statements IV, where we combined computer animations by Yves Netzhammer with electronic tracks by the bands Opiate, Mouse on Mars and To rococo rot. The special thing about it was that each of the artists was working without any knowledge of the others’ work. Then, at the presentation in Berlin, the sounds were performed live, where they encountered images by Yves Netzhammer for the first time. There were nearly magical moments as the images interplayed with the music. The music suddenly revealed emotions in the otherwise emphatically sterile visual forms.

TR: What expectations do you associate with the element of the acoustic, and to what extent can it supplement visual communication?

MM: One thing that has long been a source of fascination for me is the idea of conceiving of music as an element of space, similar to a colour. Music can bring about elemental changes to a space, it can occupy the space, and if it is missing, then the room is empty once again. As a medium, the sound of music has something that places it ahead of all other communication – people receive it at a physical level that, at least initially, has nothing at all to do with the intellect and responds a great deal more quickly than the intellect. Music practically passes directly into the nervous system.

TR: What were the considerations that motivated you to launch the ‘Noises for Ritual Architecture’, which is joined by the ritual architectures of MEM, Logic and Elemental Spa?

MM: These processes of purification or cleansing that I dealt with in the ritual architectures involved that very moment of shutting the intellect off for once. After all, that is one of the functions of ritual. In both cases, sound installations and ritual architecture, what is involved is the transformation of consciousness, creating a zone in which perceptions of the everyday are transformed.

TR: What prompted the collaboration with Carlo Peters?

MM: I become a curator of music if I find it fits in with the context I am hoping to create in a particular project. That is why I am very pleased that I met Carlo Peters several years ago; for one thing, he is a superb musician, but more importantly, he also has this talent to empathise with concepts. He also enlists very different kinds of genre in the process: for the music to accompany the ‘Farm Project’, for instance, he worked with country and folk pieces from the 1970s, works that, on their face, are far away from the Noises. Not only is he an outstanding talent for empathising with the spirit of a particular context; he can then also take a particular musical material, fathom it thoroughly and carry it further in a manner that, artistically speaking, is stylistically very self-assured.

TR: How did you communicate with one another, conceptually, in creating the ‘Noises for Ritual Architecture’ project?

MM: To begin with, I showed Carlo Peters the computer renderings as studies for the architecture; I explained the sequence of the respective rituals and then perhaps played him a few sounds that I had in mind, something like a point of departure. The structure that is now in place, the flow of musical time and the multitude of sounds you can now hear – of course this is the actual musical and compositional work, the work of Carlo Peters. 

TR: But couldn’t you quickly wind up in some kind of New Age concepts?

MM: Naturally, with a sound installation such as the SoundSpa, there also have to be sound elements that somehow carry the listener, giving him or her the opportunity to relax, to take a deep breath. At a certain level, the Noises play with certain frowned-upon approaches, but for something like this, music in particular is a very interesting art form. What we wanted to accomplish was not to create some manner of dream world or other. After all, cleansing rituals are about the transformation of the everyday. Carlo Peters and I were agreed that the Noises would have to be a progressive work. Which is why you hear these subtle rhythms of digital crackling, rushing and error noises that led to the definition of the title for the project: ‘Noises for Ritual Architecture’.

TR: Why did you decide to create another supplement for the Sound Spa in the form of a visual level – animation images by Jens-Oliver Gasde?

MM: One thing we noticed is that the entire Noises project had grown and matured so much in the meantime that it was in a position to describe a special space all of its own: a space that was nearly a temple with an energy very much its own, liberated from ideology or religion. I personally am often in search of just such a space, if I’m on the road again and have to spend time waiting in airports or train stations. Since it wasn’t possible include in the Dornbracht Noises for Ritual Architecture exhibition the origin of the project – the ritual architectures themselves – I was looking for images people could use to meditate, for instance if they direct their gaze upwards in the Sound Spa. The projection is also designed to support the notion that a certain period of pause is appropriate to the music, to enable it to unfurl its qualities over time.

TR: How did you wind up with the form now in place?

MM: For one, I didn’t want to show any bathroom architecture per se; moreover, it would have been trite to illustrate only certain elements of the sounds – birds, drops of water, caves or the like. So, as in the case of the music, there was a need to derive another level of abstraction from the architectures themselves. So finally I drew the architectonic icons shown on the covers in 3D and created certain arrangements for each series. Jens-Oliver Gasde then developed these drawings further.

TR: The computer-generated animations clearly exhibit their digital origins.

MM: That was something that was very important to me, because it makes clear that, given the technological, and particularly the digital possibilities we have, we find ourselves in the age of simulation. It also further accentuates the poetry inherent in the films of Jens-Oliver Gasde, in contrast to the geometric-digital language of forms. He has succeeded in placing the minimalistic cubes in a wonderful ‘flow’. As a result, the beholder gradually forgets that it is rendered, although this fact is never concealed. You lie down, look up at the ceiling, and you see things the surfaces of which recall architecture yet which exist completely removed from the function of architecture. This underscores the feeling of floating that is inherent in the music, and in a way you begin to float yourself.