This app is an enhanced Photobook which combines photographs of restaurants and cafés with the original sounds of these places: it is only when hearing these voices and noises that an idea of the atmosphere of a venue emerges – the empty space suddenly fills with life. The selection of restaurants is purely personal – this is not a guide book but a collection of places where the photographer went to eat or to meet his friends. To date it includes restaurants in Germany, France, Spain and India.
To walk into a restaurant or bar is to plunge into a self-contained world. If we arrive when the restaurant is already full, we are met by a unique mixture of voices, fragments of conversation and background music, the clatter of plates and cutlery and the periodically recurring noise of the espresso machine. All these sounds create an acoustic backdrop that surrounds us like a protective envelope. It is only this that gives a sense of privacy at our own table, as it allows our own conversation to blend in with the overall atmosphere. Anyone who spends an entire evening in a restaurant can follow the acoustic patterns of the quality and level of these mixed noises: at the beginning you can still involuntarily overhear fragments of conversation from neighbouring tables, or the waiters taking orders. After the first few drinks the mood in the room changes, everyone is audibly and visibly more relaxed, and only individual loud phrases and loud laughter detach themselves from the hubbub of voices.
There are very smart restaurants where people speak quietly and the waiters try not to make any noise at all, and others in which the place gets very loud and the waiters are quite uninhibited about clattering the dishes and silverware. Restaurants range from large halls to bistros the size of small rooms: these different dimensions can be picked out by ear with your eyes closed. And of course it sounds different when almost everyone is speaking Italian or Chinese. Is it possible to hear where one is located geographically or socially?
The work of Berlin-based artist, photographer and designer Stefan Koppelkamm reflects historical as well as contemporary aspects of architecture and the urban environment. One of his most successful projects is Ortszeit / Local Time. ”Before-and-after“ photographs illustrate the extraordinary changes that took place in the urban fabric of East Germany in the decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The photographs were exhibited all over the world and the book was reprinted several times. In the past years Koppelkamm has been exploring the relation between sounds and images. For his recent project a tablet computer proved to be the ideal choice, as it makes it possible to link images and sounds smoothly and even to zoom into the high-resolution images to view details that a book cannot show.