I was rummaging through the garbage piles in the Hamburg/Wilhelmsburg neighborhood for a while, to find an object I could coax sounds from. Eventually the crap I was collecting made it back to the garbage heap, as I bought an old leather suitcase for €1 in a thrift store. Decades ago I visited an exhibition about emigration from Bremen to New York, and the image of a room full of such suitcases immediately came to my mind when I saw the one in the thrift store. The idea came to me after I was invited a few years ago to one of the Pauline Oliveros memorials, in which I was part of the Apple Box Orchestra.

So taking off from Pauline Oliveros’ Apple Box approach, the suitcase acts as the instrument. Together with its contact microphones it functions as a filter and amplifier for the sounds coaxed from its resonant body, to then messed with, processed, and spatialized on a quad sound system. The video presents short excerpts of the final performance, the sound is a stereo downmix of the original 4-channel spatialization.

The production was part of a two-year exchange project, WIL(HELMS | LIAMS)BURG, in which 8 artists from both sides of the Atlantic (Xiao Fu, Georg Hajdu, Jacon Sello, Carlos Andres Rico, Dafna Naphtali, Howie Kenty, Maria Chavez and me) create works that relate to the common history between the locations Hamburg/Wilhelmsburg and Brooklyn/Williamsburg ( This year’s production was supported by Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg and Hamburgische Kulturstiftung.

Performances in collaboration with 48h Wilhelmsburg and blurred edges festivals, Hamburg. SONIC FLOTSAM was presented at IBA-Dock.

Videos by Taizhi Shao. All photos by Gerhard Kühne.