tuned city in ancient messini
site specific events

We usually look at a space in order to make sense of it. How would it be though, if we were to listen to it? Ancient Messene is transformed into an endless soundscape and is reintroduced to the public.

Tuned City in the Ancient City of Messini will be a departure from all previous editions, one that investigates an important theme for the Interfaces project: how can contemporary performance practice and research reveal new facets of our relationship to history and, conversely, how can our interest in the past inform our openness to contemporary music and sound art.

Tuned City is a platform researching relations between sound and space in the urban context. The project draws the traditions of critical discussion about urban space within the architecture and urban planning discourse–as well as its strategies and working methods–into the context of sound and listening. This expanded discussion reinforces the potential of the spatial and communicative properties of sound as a tool and means of urban practice.

Τuned City is researching the relation between sound and space and presents artistic work and theoretical positions derived from critical preoccupations with sound in the context of urban and architectonic situations with particular emphasis on original approaches to the role of ’sound’ and ‘listening’. During the previous edition in Berlin (2008), Tallinn (2011) and Brussels (2013) Tuned City developed a series of formats with focused on lively site specific experience of theoretical questions in a mix of scientific lectures and demonstrations, artistic presentations and performances and location based installations. Nevertheless, Tuned City should not be understood as the attempt to "tune" the city in terms of improvement, it should be more seen in the sense of "tuning into the city" as a different way of understanding city by the means of sound.

The ancient Greek city underwent many changes in it’s appearance and conception. It’s image and the way in which it’s inhabitants perceived it was evaluated differently from the course of historic reflections. Some of the changes gave rise to quite different evaluations of the city’s proper function, and quite different definitions of what an ideal city was and should be - quite some of those assumptions may well apply to current uncertainties. Underneath the well preserved city structure of the ancient place it becomes very clear that it was Hippodamus greatest achievement: recognizing that urban planning was about more than engineering a functional city. It was about creating an environment that expressed and nurtured the ideals of its citizens.

In that sense Ancient Messene would be the ideal place to reflect about ‘city as a construct’ and explore the phenomenological aspects of space as well as social and political dimensions of the city. Tuned Cityis going to listen underneath the surface and in between the obvious findings. Ancient Messene will be transformed in to a vast platform for artistic production and presentation, discussion and intermediation of sound art and music in public spaces through a variety of formats in a direct interrelation with the local context and a vital exchange with a local and international audience.


Some additional info...

The urban landscape of Messene was constructed in the Early Hellenistic era, according to certain architectural and town-planning principles of spatial organization, which reflected the political and social values of the period applied to the demands of this programmatic city founded by the Thebans in 369 B.C. on the south slopes of mount Ithome. The city was famous for its mighty fortification walls, the monumentality of its public buildings and the Hippodamian town-plan.
The cityscape preserves evidence related to its successive constructional phases in the course of time from the 4th century BC to the 14th AD. The character of the landscape is defined and transformed by human activities and ideologies; it is a cultural product subject to constant re-interpretation. (Petros Themelis, Director of the excavations)

1-3 June 2018
Ancient Messene, Greece
organised by:
Onassis Cultural Centre