DATA ACQUISITION (Song of Sadness)

Spatial Sound Composition (2022)

Data Acquisition (A Song of Sadness) is a spatial sound composition by Moritz Fehr created for the newly established Listening Space at the Ethnological Museum, Berlin. The work deals with a historical recording of the Korean song Susimga, which was sung by the Korean Prisoner of War (POW) Grigori Kim (Kim Hong-Jun) and was recorded on November 22, 1916 by employees of the so-called Königlich Preußische Phonographische Kommission (Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission) in the German Prisoner Of War Camp Königsbrück near Dresden.

The Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission was founded in 1915 and was tasked with documenting the languages and traditional music of the soldiers interned in German POW camps. The German scientists exploited the forced situation of the prisoners to create these recordings.

Many recordings, such as the song Susimga, have been preserved to this day and serve as intangible objects in the collection of the Lautarchiv at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Due to the forced situation associated with the creation of the recordings, as well as the still unresolved issues regarding the copyright and personal rights of the singers, this historical collection is to be considered sensitive.

Data Acquisition (A Song of Sadness) examines the significance of the historical recording for the present and deals with issues of its presentation today.

For the ethical reasons mentioned, the historical recording of Grigori Kim (Kim Hong-Jun) is not reproduced as part of this work. Instead, Moritz Fehr worked with contemporary vocalists Sol-i So (Dresden/Bern) and Joonsik Kim (Seoul, commissioned by the National Gugak Center). In this process, new interpretations and improvisations relating to the historical recording of Susimga were created for Data Acquisition (A Song of Sadness). These new recordings were combined with sounds and noises that audibly represent the methodology, classification systems, and technology used by the scientists at the time.

Data Acquisition (A Song of Sadness) was realized using a combination of the spatial sound techniques Wave Field Synthesis and Ambisonics, available in the Ethnological Museum’s Listening Room, to create a three-dimensional listening experience that unfolds around the listener like an acoustic holography.

Vocals and improvisations: Sol-i So (Dresden/Bern), Joonsik Kim (Seoul)

With kind support of the Ethnological Museum Berlin (Department of Ethnomusicology), National Gugak Center Seoul, Lautarchiv of the Humboldt University Berlin, the TU Berlin (Department of Audio Communication) and the Cultural Center of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Berlin.

Data Acquisition (A Song of Sadness) is permanently presented at the Listening Space of the Ethnological Museum Berlin, playing daily during the museum's opening hours. Please have a look at the website of the Listening Space for playtimes.