Vergehen (Passing)

by Mathis Nitschke

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Vergehen 26:05
Passing Text by Mathis Nitschke, freely using motives and paraphrases out of Douglas Trumbull’s movie “Brainstorm”, Benjamin Stein’s novel “Replay” (C. H. Beck) and most of all Judith N. Klein’s essay “Rückkehr nach Lindeira” (Neues Literaturkontor) Translation: Alex Schmidt HE: an adult male voice SHE: a young female voice ANDROID: a female computer voice HE: You will love it. No memory slips your mind. We see and hear what you see and hear, and also what you imagine. And we preserve it for you. Whatever you’ll daydream of, … a memory of a happy moment. Whether it is early in the morning or dark, bright or hot, all that doesn’t matter. You will love it. SHE: Would you like to take a walk with us? Then come, come, this way! ANDROID: You are 48 degrees, 8 minutes, 15.40 seconds north, 11 degrees, 35 minutes, 35.49 seconds east. Direction: 88.3 degrees. SHE: Go right. Turn right. More to the right. Right, right. Less to the left. More to the right. More to the right. To the right. ANDROID: You are 48 degrees, 8 minutes, 14.94 seconds north, 11 degrees, 35 minutes, 35.14 seconds east. Direction: 210.1 degrees. SHE: More to the left. Left, left. The direction isn’t okay. More to the left. Left, left. To the left. More to the left. HE: Only 40 yards. ANDROID: You are 48 degrees, 8 minutes, 14.43 seconds north, 11 degrees, 35 minutes, 35.27 seconds east. Direction: 170.0 degrees. SHE: Move on. Keep moving. This way. Absolutely right. Yes, yes. Keep moving. This way. Straight ahead. HE: Only 20 yards. SHE: Move on. Keep moving. This way. Absolutely right. Yes, yes. Keep moving. This way. Straight ahead. HE: Only 10 yards. SHE: At the bushes over there, we have to pass that gate there. HE: Your smartphone has a GPS receiver. Therefore it knows – she knows – I know – we know always where you are. SHE: Recollect your last beautiful voyage. The last inspiring encounter. Or your last erotic adventure. Or your last exciting fantasy. I’ll record these memories now. Thank you. HE: Wait. Look around. Have you already been here? Look into the water. Do you remember this stone, the reddish one? This stone the river Isar left last week a few more yards upstream? SHE: I saved your memory. Now you can recall it, unfaded, whenever you like. No memory will ever get lost. You won’t forget a single thing, unless you want to. HE: I’m sure you will be astonished. Did you know, that back there, on the far shore of the Isar, in the bushes, that there live particular ants? They can’t see spatially, a caprice of nature. If you set such an ant on a globe, it won’t stop running. It's a constant advancement on an endless plain for the ant, and it doesn’t realize that it moves around and around, taking the same way again and again. You will see. You will find yourself in a world you can’t even imagine today. SHE: High water, deep water, fast water, slow water, green water, blue water, clear water, murky water, rough water, smooth water, loud water, quiet water, distant water, close water, good water, bad water, what do you see? What do you see? SHE: Could you touch me? Please. Please. Please. Thank you. HE: What do you think, what should we do with your saved memory? Should we play it back, should we delete it or change it and adapt it to your wishes? SHE: Hey, or would you like to experience the memory of somebody else? We have everything, every variety, every kind. You just have to choose something. HE: Do you hear it? How the sound of your steps is changing? How the gravel is crunching under your shoes? Your memories, the small stones, they don’t get carried away by the stream. They just lie there. And you only want to walk over them to leave them behind, but the stones just laugh at you. ANDROID: Do you remember how you played with stones as a child? How you balanced from one stone to the next one? How single, sharp stones made you cringe? Do you feel the hardness of the granite under the sole of your foot again? Do you still feel the heat of the sun that the stones saved for a long time? SHE: Could you perhaps touch me again? Now. Now. Now. Now. Now. That is beautiful. SHE: This bridge in front of you, called “Kabelsteg”, was built in 1898. A long time before you were born. It’s among the first bridges made out of ferroconcrete. A bridge made of liquid stone. Imagine you could cast your memories into such a shape. Imagine: There lies your new life, with new memories. Do you dare to walk over it? HE: Yes, in theory you could walk backwards. But why? HE: You pass a big hole in the bridge. It helps to reduce the pressure during high tide by letting the stream through the bridge unobstructed. That’s how it survived every high tide so far. Just like us. Everything flows through us, unopposed, nothing passes us. We told you that we can see you. SHE: Yes. We told you that we can see you. HE: We told you that we can see you. Now, you, on the bridge. ANDROID: You are 48 degrees, 8 minutes, 4.20 seconds north, 11 degrees, 35 minutes, 21.91 seconds east. HE: We always do what we want even if we claim to have acted against our will and to have been forced to do something. We then wish for the consequences of our actions even if we don’t like what we do at the moment. Do you understand that? HE: Straight ahead: the truth exists. Right: the truth doesn’t exist. Left: the way out. SHE: Doesn’t the rushing of the water sound familiar somehow? Have you been here before? ANDROID: Error. You only think that you experience what you hear right now. In fact, I’m playing back that memory and it melts with your current perception. HE: Look to the left, to the right. Look up. There we are. We are everywhere. Left, right, behind you, in front of you. We see you. We follow you. SHE: Yes. Why don’t you try it? Try it! Come! Run! Run! Run away! When you arrive, we are already there anyway. Run! SHE: Sharp stones, round stones, hard stones, soft stones, red stones, white stones, flat stones, square stones, HE: Wait a minute. Stop. Look back. Look back at the past. SHE: wet stones, hot stones, pretty stones, ugly stones, mossy stones, dry stones, tiny little giant stones… HE: Feel the wall, the stone. Feel how the stone saves the sun or moisture. Look at the bridge, the “Kabelsteg”, shaped like a bird with a hole in the middle. SHE: Could you perhaps touch me one last time? Do you think about “old time”? About the past, the passage of time? Is the memory paired with the pain of decay? Because the past, this “old time” was “your time”, the only one, you ever had, and also “your future” that was carried away by the passing present?
Kabelsteg 12:04


Imagine that you take a walk at the river Isar in Munich. Your smartphone starts a conversation, involving you in a discourse about memories and the past. Are you capable of shaping your future memories?

„Vergehen“ (Passing) is an opera you have to walk. To experience it, you download an app (Android or iOS). By using its GPS receiver the smartphone knows where in this world you are located right now. The app is using this piece of information to play site-specific music. Please visit for further info and download links.

The text as well as the music were synchronized by Mathis Nitschke exactly to the chosen way from the cascades below the Maximilianeum over the bridge called “Kabelsteg” to the Museumsinsel, so that the public space is turning into a stage design. The local conditions are reflected in the words, just like the music processes the sounds of the environment; a path from one rushing sound of water to the next one, from noise to noise.

This download or CD version reflects one of the many possible audio walks. As the app adapts the music to the position, direction of movement and walking speed of the flaneur, no opera walk will be like the one before.

Musically, „Vergehen“ combines the classical voice of Sarah Aristidou with a hybrid of acoustic and processed cello played by Anja Lechner, analogue techno electronics and digital sound art by Mathis Nitschke. At times bringing to mind the drive of popular electric cello ensembles, then paying homage to the heritage of musique concrète, then again delivering allusions to jazz and world music, composer Mathis Nitschke doesn’t tie himself down to one genre.

Using special miking techniques and the latest binaural filters for the production lead to a 3D audio experience that is optimized for headphones, yet fully compatible to speakers.


released February 20, 2017

Soprano: Sarah Aristidou
Narrators: Sarah Aristidou, Mathis Nitschke, Google Android
Cello: Anja Lechner
Concept, composition and programming: Mathis Nitschke

Text: Mathis Nitschke, freely using motives and paraphrases out of Douglas Trumbull’s movie “Brainstorm”, Benjamin Stein’s novel “Replay” (C. H. Beck) and most of all Judith N. Klein’s essay “Rückkehr nach Lindeira” (Neues Literaturkontor)

Translation: Alex Schmidt

Additional samples taken from productions with Mathis Mayr (cello) und Gabriel Hahn (drums)

Made possible by the city of Munich’s “Projektstipendium Junge Kunst / Neue Medien für Musik 2015”.

„Vergehen“ is available as an app for Android and iOS. Please visit for further info and download links.


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Mathis Nitschke Munich, Germany

Mathis Nitschke is an artist who combines different disciplines. Already during his studies of classical guitar, visual arts and music composition, Mathis began to experiment with film and sound and since then has combined these elements with live theatre and opera.
His music compositions and productions are often grounded in acoustic performances, yet he likes going experimental.
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