X / Earwitness (2018) HDV, 10:00. Directed by Ruth Bernatek and Anna Ulrikke Andersen.

X / Earwitness (2018) is a film based around a field research trip to Greece, made by myself and architectural historian Ruth Bernatek, engaging with her research of the sounds, spaces and landscapes of the Polytope de Mycenae (1978), an open air multimedia installation by the composer and architect Iannis Xenakis. 

Initially tracing the sonic and spatial fragments of the original event, the film turns to address the concept and testimony of the ‘earwitness’. Four channel sound is used to explore how our auditory memory is filtered, stripped and framed through the present-day; experienced as the movement between, and return to, particular places and spaces in Greece. Language: Greek and English.

X / Earwitness (2018) by Ruth Bernatek and Anna Ulrikke Andersen
X / Earwitness (2018) by Ruth Bernatek and Anna Ulrikke Andersen

Polytope de Mycenae was performed over three consecutive evenings in September 1978.
Presented as a ‘feast in light, movement and sound’, it was the last in Xenakis’ series of ‘polytopes’ and included live and electroacoustic music, anti-aircraft search lights, flaming torches, animals, human voices and bodies. It took place amongst the nocturnal ancient ruins of Mycenae; the acropolis and citadel walls, Mount Zara to the South and Prophitas Elias to the North.

The Mycenae polytope is uniquely and tightly bound to Xenakis’ experience of returning to Greece as a ‘pilgrim’ after nearly thirty years of exile, that coincided with the so-called ‘return to democracy’ in Greece after the collapse of the military junta in the autumn of 1974.Convergent artistic, architectonic and musical qualities of the event therefore possessed a particular political meaning, both in the ideological cultural regeneration of Greece, Xenakis’ home-land, but also in its promotion of a new type of Greek national consciousness.

With thanks to:
The Dassis Family
Bartlett Architecture Research Fund
London Arts and Humanities Partnership
Sound Making Space
Penelope Haralambidou and Ifigenia Liangi

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