2018 | Museum of Communication | Bern

The exhibition “Sounds of Silence” focuses on silence. The scenographic concept is principally built around the acoustic experience of the space. It is through the experience of sound that silence is being made perceptible.

With “Sounds of Silence”, the Museum of Communication Bern stages an exhibition on the topic of silence. In the large exhibition space, there are no exhibits, touch screen stations or info boards. The exhibition is designed almost entirely by means of sound. “Sounds of Silence” has been devised as a three-dimensional soundscape, in which sound has centre stage.

Equipped with the usomo system, consisting of headphones with the usomo tracking module and a smartphone, the visitors move intuitively through the space. Guidance takes place primarily by acoustic triggers that are being sent to each visitor in real time according to individual movements, which allows the visitors to move through the space at free impulse. The sounds – programmed sound design in the shape of soundscapes, music and voices – follow each visitor with precise tracking and fade in and out fluidly, depending on which areas of the space are being moved through.

With the immersive sound technology by usomo, one gains the impression of hearing the digitally created sounds as if they were real, enabling full immersion in them. The sound is no longer a separate, static layer between the human and the space, but it permeates them, blends them, seemingly gaining a life of its own. The usomo sound technology is tantalising and convincing in its precision and clarity. It is so lifelike as if the sound sources were not of digital but of real nature. What makes usomo unique is the real-time tracking of every single person, individually calculated and sent to the headphones with utmost exactitude and speed.

Thanks to the intuitive freedom of movement with usomo, it seems as if one were drifting through the open space like in a dream. This effect is further intensified because perception detaches from material objects and shifts completely to the hearing. Touching on this, a monologue of a zen master from the Valais mountains on silence is part of the soundscape. Visual and haptic triggers are reduced to the absolute essentials. The space contains no objects except for some film projections, showing images like a calm and soothing snow landscape, and semi-transparent dividers made from filigree threads and some freely distributed seats. It is designed mainly in minimalistic black-and-white, accentuated by only a few colourful spots.

The atmosphere that arises mirrors the core of the exhibition concept: the reflection on silence in full concentration on it. How is silence defined? What makes it so very valuable and desirable? Why is it so hard to find and, at the same time, so hard to stand?

The Museum of Communication Bern is known for its passion for experiment and innovation. It is first to introduce to Switzerland the interactive and immersive 3D audio system usomo as a completely new and unknown technology. “Sounds of Silence” is the first special exhibition since the re-opening of the museum in August 2017, effecting significant resonance in the press.


PLOT Magazine
1 December 2018

Create Digital Music
An exploration of silence, in a new exhibition in Switzerland
28 November 2018

Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Der süsse, verstörende Klang der Stille
11 November 2018

Der Bund
Wie laut doch alles ist
9 November 2018

Berner Oberländer
Planet Stille. Interview mit Kurt Stadelmann 
7 November 2018

La Liberté
Le Musée de la communication expose le silence
7 November 2018

Thuner Tagblatt
Eintauchen in eine 3-D-Hörlandschaft
7 November 2018

Radio Bern
Sounds of Silence – Stille ist nichts für Feiglinge

Der Theaterverlag
Stille ist nichts für Mutlose 


BrandEx Award
Architectures | Gold

iF Design Award
Public Exhibition Design

DDC Gute Gestaltung
Spaces | Bronze

International Sound Awards
Soundscapes and Ambient Sound


Website mfk.ch

Client Museum of Communication, Bern

Curation Kurt Stadelmann

Sound design idee und klang, Basel

Scenography ZMIK spacial design, Basel

Spatial sound system usomo by FRAMED immersive projects, Berlin

usomo tasks usomo sound system, spatial audio production, consulting on the interactive sound concept and playback logic

Duration 9 November 2018 to 7 July 2019

Photos © Museum of Communication