Pro Helvetia Residency in Venice

Ramon's Venice diary

The sound of the lagoons of Venice
After the first half of my four weeks Pro Helvetia residency in Venice, I went on a trip to the lagoon, trying to escape the overcrowded center. It's somehow paradoxical that in the 'city without cars' you can hear the boats all the more.
I was accompanied by Enrico Coniglio, who is a soundscape composer himself. Together, we explored a small abandoned island nearby Murano and recorded various interesting sounds. Especially the hydrophone (underwater recordings) produced a surprisingly vivid soundscape. Apart from sounds, we also caught a fish called ‚Vongole veraci‘, which we cooked afterwards.

Venice underwater
In the following weeks, I further explored the underwater world of Venice. With two ambient hydrophones (underwater microphones) I recorded the ship traffic of the Giudecca Canal with about 2 meter depth (see video below). It was pretty surprising how far you can hear the boats and how loud they actually are - especially when they 'brake' (thats the loud rattling noise). Definitely not a pleasant habitat for the marine life.

The dark side of Venice
During my residency, I was furthermore able to do night recording sessions on the canal. The spatially more interesting situations are definitely happening during nighttime, for the general noise level is much lower and therefore the hearing radius is getting bigger. One evening, I got the chance to accompany Federicco Mantovan, who is delivering vegetables once a week in a rowing boat, and on another been able to visit the Rialto fish market and catch the early morning atmosphere there.

Dancing with cranes
One day, on a boat journey for field-recordings, together with Maurizio Adamo (the founder of the legendary Paradiso Perduto restaurant in Venice) and my friend Pascal Renaud-Bovy, I came across an interesting object on Poveglia, a beautiful abandoned Island nearby Lido: An old crane - which was so much fun to dance and play with (see video below). Its repertoire was mind-blowing; so many different tones, harmonics, resonances and squeak sounds!

So long, Venice.
During my residency, I've made several trips to the Venetian lagoon to discover both public and long abandoned islands. The trips included various exciting places and objects destined for field recording: The aforementioned old crane, the reverberant waves in the entrance hall of Forte Sant'Andrea, some weird underwater sounds on Torcello, and many more. These adventures were only possible thanks too many hints and tips from friends and professionals, some of whom I met during my time in Venice. I can't wait to be back soon!

Learn more about the Pro Helvetia Residency programme here.