The "Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology" aims at developing ‘an anthropology of/as urbanism’. It critically explores governmental, everyday, insurgent and more-than-human practices of city making. It also experiments with ethnography as a more-than-textual, multimodal practice.



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Sounding Berlin: Towards an Apparatus for Atmospheric Attunements

Cities are awash with soundwaves. Elusive, intangible and ephemeral realities that rely on traces to be known and heard, but are also indexical traces of forms of sociality, material processes and other urban activities. In Sounding Berlin, we invite you to sound the depths of Berlin, to enter these sonorous urban worlds and gather traces of sounds and what they evoke. Utilising different sensory modalities, and equipping ourselves with different tools (recordings, drawings, text, photographs), we seek to gather various traces of the sonorous, and to experiment with ways of assembling “apparatuses for atmospheric attunements” (Choy 2018). At the same time, we are interested in how the sonorous “overflows” these apparatuses, and to reflect on how the incomplete traces from differing modalities are patched together, and the different soundscapes that in one site can be assembled together. 

Each of the modalities and tools capture a particular trace of sound in a different way. Words and sounds, for instance, relate awkwardly: the hum of traffic, the rattle of the train, laughter or ha-ha-ha, or even, splash! On their own, it is difficult to understand what sound recordings refer to, the source of the sound, and while R. Murray Schafer once wrote that he has never seen a sound, sometimes we can hear the wind through a photograph. For this first Stadtlabor event of the semester, we would like to come together, combine our sensory modalities, and see the many ways in which the ways in which Berlin sounds can be put together.

Practicalities and Details:

Date: Wednesday, 1 November 

Time: 16:00-19:00

Place: Meet and form teams at Neptunbrunnen at Alexanderplatz

We will provide teams with activation prompts and a timeline of activity.  Eventually we will all assemble back at the Institute for European Ethnology (Room 212) for drinks and snacks and to share some of the results of our work.  In you have any questions and to RSVP, contact Brett Mommersteeg at or Andrew Gilbert at (we’d appreciate the RSVP so we have a rough estimate for food and drink).

[Also, keep an eye out for a fuller announcement about the Stadtlabor’s Winter Semester Program, which will include diverse events featuring Deborah Thomas, Jennifer Deger, and members of an experiment in circulation and activation spanning Jakarta, Sao Paolo and Berlin.]

illustration by Fernand Deligny