Yamaha Sound system brings Sarajevo siege life to Barcelona museum

A sound system incorporating Yamaha audio technology has been installed at the world famous Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) to deliver the soundtrack of a film to be shown attempting to bring to life one of the darkest episodes witnessed by mainland Europe since the Second World War; the Siege of Sarajevo.

The siege, part of the Bosnian War, lasted 1395 days between 1992 until 1996. Ed Vulliamy, who reported the Bosnian War for The Guardian, understood the siege as a “violent piece of theatre” to distract international audiences whilst the unrelenting ethnic cleansing of Bosnia took place.

The film being presented at MACBA, 1395 Days Without Red, seeks to bring a powerful depiction of the lives of those caught on the stage of this “violent theatre”.

The film was created by Sarajevo-born artist Šejla Kameric and her husband Anri Sala. It follows the life of a woman living in Sarajevo – played by the Spanish actress Maribel Verdú – as she takes her daily route from her home through the besieged city to a rehearsal room where she practises Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony. In the process, she faces the threat of sniper fire as she crosses roads which colloquially became termed “sniper alleys”. Each decision of precisely when to cross the road becomes a life-or-death decision.

Uniquely, 1395 Days is designed to be shown in a number of adjacent rooms. Each room provides the viewer with a different version of the film. Each version includes the same events and narrative but shows film shot from different camera angles.

The accompanying music provides the appropriate atmosphere to bring out the intense tension of the situation. The Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra provides appropriate excepts of Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony which is supplemented by atmospheric sound effects to pull the viewer some way into the drama of the situation.

As such, it was critical the film received the perfect audio system to accompany it.

This system was delivered by a combination of a Yamaha and Nexo audio technology installed by Barcelona-based Doscientos Veinte Sonido SL (Dosveinte).

“Much of the film’s tension comes from the soundtrack, the lack of dialogue concentrating the listener’s mind on the ambient sounds and music,” explained José María Mendez from Doscientos Veinte Sonido. “Many of the sound effects are also subtle – things like the noise of a faint breeze and the heavy breathing of people who have just run across yet another junction, so audio quality was very important.

“To achieve this and to make it as lifelike as possible,” he continued, “the installation needed a high quality, digital surround system in each room, with sophisticated management. The Yamaha and Nexo equipment allowed us to achieve this, while making the control straightforward and coming within the budget constraints of a modern art installation.”

It is built on an EtherSound network and comprises a Yamaha 01V96VCM digital console in each of the rooms. This handles the mixing of the audio signals which are then streamed with the video. The video itself is delivered, using an RME Fireface interface, from an Apple Mac Pro computer.

In the rooms themselves, the audio is sent using NX ES104 interfaces and Nexo NXAMP4 amplifiers to six Nexo PS8 and three PS10 loudspeakers.

Controlling the whole system is Yamaha DME64N digital mixing engine, which has the various required EQ, filters and delays already programmed. It also controls which version of the film is playing in which room and when.

Finally, AVY16-ES100 interfaces in the DME64N and mixing consoles complete the picture.

1395 Days Without Red will be showing at MACBA until January 9th 2012.