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Ku’damm Steel-Life Sketches9:59

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gabriel santander


The process of Ku’damm Steel-life Sketches was conceived, performed, recorded and edited in Berlin between April and July 2011, for the 125th anniversary of Kurfürstendamm. It is a compositional process resulting in an interactive sound installation at the listener’s own space.

The audio material consists of a performance by percussionists recording with binaural microphones and playing on an open-air hollow metal sculpture, whose inner sounds are recorded with a contact microphone. The sound file is to be played-back by the listener using earphones and loudspeakers with a 2 second delay between them and in a sounding environment recalling that of the performance site.

The sculpture explored in Ku’damm Steel-life Sketches, Obelisk by Heinz Mack, is located at Henriettenplatz in Kurfürstendamm. It was built to commemorate the 750th anniversary of Berlin in 1987 and it is related to the columns on the southern side of Henriettenplatz and the Leucht-Obelisk at Europacenter, both also designed by Heinz Mack.

The resulting sound installation superimposes several layers of mirroring interactions between street-sounds, performers playing on the sculpture, sounds from the hollow obelisk and electro-acoustic equipment, allowing the listener to experience the performance from different perspectives at the same time and to participate in its final sounding result by interacting with the play-back set up.

The piece is (secretly) dedicated to the memory of Jorge Luís Borges on the 25th anniversary of his death.


-Earphones or open headphones
-2 loudspeakers
-Radio receiver (only for live-broadcast)
-Computer with Internet connection
-Other audio equipment when necessary

Spatial set up:

-If possible, open doors and/or windows to set the installation in a quasi open-air (preferably street-noisy) sounding environment.

-Position yourself between both speakers and at an arms length from each one, creating an angle between your arms of around 60º or 90º.
Equipment set ups:

Equipment Set up

-Balance the volumes of earphones and loudspeakers in order for both to be audible and surrounding (balancing them to the sounds of your street).

1) Live-broadcasting:

-Connect the earphones to your radio receiver and tune in to the broadcast of the piece.

-Connect the loudspeakers to the computer and play the live-streaming version of the piece on the webpage.

2) Mp3 download

-Download the mp3 file.

-Play the file on two different players (hardware or software) starting with the earphones (on mp3 player or computer) and 2 seconds later with the loudspeakers (on computer or other audio equipment).


-Cover Left or Right ear with hand (briefly) to isolate the sounds coming from the earphone from those of the loudspeakers (and street).

-Remove Left or Right earphones (briefly) to explore different set ups.

-Exchange Left and Right earphones in stereophonic or spatial passages for cross-stereo delay effects (middle and ending).

-Move your head (briefly) closer to the loudspeakers to balance sounds coming from earphones and loudspeakers.

-Cover Left or Right loudspeakers with hand (briefly) to mute the sound coming from them and to feel their vibration.

Participants in the process:

Bayani, Kyan (Percussion, Recording, Editing and Mixing)
Ladic, Ksenija (Editing and Mixing)
Lutz, Martin (Percussion, Recording)
Rodenberg, Conrad (Percussion, Recording)
Thomas, Marcus (Percussion, Recording)
Santander, Gabriel (Conception, Conducting, Percussion, Recording, Montage, Editing, Mixing and Postscriptum)

Download PDF: Process Kudamm Steel-life Sketches – Process