”Beautiful Moment, Do Not Pass Away!” Tragedy of Development vs. Other Possible Worlds

Artists Aleksandra Nowysz
Genre Sound   Installation
Edition Survival 21
  • sound installation, sound design: Agata Zemla, 2023

In the boiler room, coal was converted into thermal energy, which was then distributed through tin pipes to the halls of the Popowice depot. Not so long ago, we dreamed of constant economic growth without taking into account many aspects, including the finiteness of natural resources such as coal. This approach is well reflected in the architecture of the depot complex. The halls have thin walls made of materials with high thermal conductivity coefficients and an external network of pipes transporting the produced heat, ignoring huge losses with every meter of the piping. Energy intensity is inherent in the aesthetics of modernism – the depot is just one example. From the perspective of such a vision of technological development, preventing the loss of energy by using proper insulation may have seemed unnecessary. The smooth surfaces of modernist architecture emanated the one and only path toward progres.

Once the last tonne of coal had been burnt in the boiler room, its fate, previously deter- mined by the principle of continuous growth, changed forever. “Music” was always part of its operation, as sound was the byproduct of the movement of warm air through the pipes. When the burning stopped, so did its inertial echoes. “Beautiful moment, do not pass away!” – said Faust in Goethe’s drama, which can be read as the founding myth of modernism. This undulating acoustic universe contains other possible worlds, mocking the smooth modernist architecture.

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