Krtička Jan

Sound Bridge 2023
sound installation, documentary photography



The Sound Bridge project sonically connects two very distant places and two institutions that collaborate with each other: the Skaftfell Art Center in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland, and the Ústí nad Labem House of Arts of the Faculty of Art and Design of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in the Czech Republic.

The sound environment of Seyðisfjörður is very specific. Surrounded by high rocky hills covered with moss, grass, and heather, it lies at the end of a fjord at the point where the river flows into the sea. The bare slopes bring the sounds back, but not directly in echo, but there is a strange almost imperceptible reverberation that intensifies the feeling of enclosure. At the time I stayed in Seyðisfjörður, in late summer, the sound of diesel engines dominated the soundscape every weekday. Cruise ships dock in the harbour, their constant low-frequency hum filling the surrounding space. Alongside this, the fjord is filled with the sound of excavators and trucks that cut the base of the Bjolfur mountainside every working day to build avalanche barriers. When the earthworks stop and there are no ships in port, Seyðisfjörður is an unusually quiet place, with only the distant sounds of waterfalls in the hills or the occasional passing car. The microphone is located on the façade of the Skaftfell Art Center facing the wild garden, beyond which the slopes of the surrounding hills rise straight up.   

Ústí nad Labem Art House is situated in a quiet part of the post-industrial city on a hill in the Klíše (Ústí nad Labem) district, many times larger than Seyðisfjörður. The sound palette is very rich and varied at the location of the microphone, and varies significantly in intensity throughout the day. The gallery building is surrounded by university halls of residence, a sports hall, a busy street, a pub with outdoor seating, residential houses, gardens, and a public swimming pool nearby. The microphone is located on the façade of the Art House facing the gardens. The sound of birds singing, occasional people talking, children shouting, dogs barking or chickens clucking can be heard in the distant traffic noise. 

The sonic atmosphere of both places can be perceived as an expression of the environment, which is co-created by their natural conditions and the activities of their inhabitants. The rising and falling sound intensity represents a specific measure of the respect or disturbance of the environmental balance of these sites. In moments of calm, the listener is surrounded by a captivating and soothing interplay of natural echoes; in moments of disturbance, he or she becomes keenly aware of the loss of harmonic balance.