Pigeon Soundings

St. Kolumba 

Cologne 1994


In 1994, St. Kolumba in Cologne was a Gothic ruin inhabited by a large number of pigeons.  Deep within the bowels of this place, 2000 years of Cologne’s history lay partly visible in the form of old walls, columns and crypts possessing a strong sense of timelessness. This extraordinary site was framed by the partially destroyed exterior walls of the old church. and a temporary wooden roof in whose rafters the pigeons lived.

Today, this becomes a new museum called Kolumba (designed by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor) which encapsulates the old Gothic ruin with a 12 meter high space of porus walls, above which the floors of the new museum sit. 


In 1994, I made a series of 8 channel sound map recordings of these pigeons, recording the sounds from 8 spatial points simultaneously. The ruin was acoustically transparent, as the ambient sounds of Cologne would seep through the old walls, mixing with the coos and flapping of flying wings.

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The sonic memory of these thousands of pigeons will return to the space, invisibly inhabiting it.