What does it sound like underwater in the Rhine river? With his sound installation "continuum" media artist Frank Schulte will explore the underwater acoustics of the Rhine river' flow movements, , noises made by river dwellers and sounds produced by passing ships along the Monheim waterfront and make them tangible as a multi-channel audio-visual production in the Evangelische Altstadtkirche (Protestant Old Town Church) in Monheim am Rhein.
All lifeforms emerge from the water. At the same time, water has always posed a real threat to the people living along the river. Both aspects were thematized during the construction of Monheim's Altstadtkirche (1848-58). ). At its portal there is a handrail that captures the rippling quality of water, and above the door to the sacred space a stained-glass picture depicts a scene from the biblical story of Noah (Genesis 7ff). The Flood covers the land, the dove with an olive branch in its beak ascends in front of a rainbow as a sign of the new covenant between God and mankind.
Sound travels relatively fast underwater and carries information over greater spatial distances than, for example, light. Therefore, animals living in water have a wide range of receptors to perceive sound. This sensitive field of perception is severely disturbed by the increasing emissions caused by human shipping traffic. This is also becomes clear in the sound installation. Likewise,the artists uses a light reflection of Rhine water to address the increase of microplastics from industrial wastewater, which were recently found in large numbers on the riverbanks of the Rhine near Monheim.
For „continuum“, Frank Schulte has placed special microphones inside the river along a length of about 200 meters. From here, the signals are transmitted to the church and played back in a multi-channel sound installation. Parallel to this, the real view of the river under and above water is shown as a video projection. This creates a virtual space within the church with subcutaneous sounds from under the water's surface which are normally inaudible to us humans. A meditation on the eternal flowing with its coming and going.
The opening was planned for Whitsun Saturday, 22 May but has had to be postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. Artistic director Reiner Michalke explains: "We are ready to go and will open as soon as we are allowed to. Since it is an on-site analogue event where you must be there to be able to immerse yourself in the Rhine through an audio-visual installation, a streaming service does not make sense here. As soon as it is possible to open the exhibition to the public, we will announce it through our channels."
The exhibition will be open twice a week for 30-minute-visit each and during ‘The Prequel’ from 1 to 4 July from 4 pm to 8 pm.