Mira Sattelberger

Transnational Student Collaboration

Kam Yi Lam April, Mira Johanna Sattelberger & Friends at achtzehnkommazwei – Raum für Kunst



Hong Kong x Munich: The Initial Conversation

At the beginning of 2020 we initiated a project called Alien Nation. The title should not be understood as a group of aliens or anything like that, rather it is describing the experiment itself. It is a documentation of conversations in unconventional ways, that include more than just spoken human words. The language of Alien Nation is creating a discourse of environments on a meta-level, an exchange of individual and common feelings, that can be understood without specific intellectual or national background. It’s a dialogue directly from heart to heart, mind to mind, spirit to spirit, or however you want to call it.

The project was created in a seminar on globalization and transcultural studies held in Munich at the academy of arts by Prof. Ernst Wagner. Together with a partner from another part of the world or cultural background, an artistic piece of work should be developed and the process documented. Mira Johanna Sattelberger, together with a friend, April Kam, who grew up in Hong Kong and lives in Munich today, emerged with the idea to establish a connection to Hong Kong without words. April acted as an interface and invited artists from Hong Kong to participate in this experiment. Apart from the renouncement of words, there were no fixed rules, communication should be able to develop undisturbed.

Three artists from Hong Kong (Tracy Tse, Tracy Wong and Ka Yan Luk) crossed paths with two artists from Germany. Would we be able to get to know each other? What opportunities for exchange would we discover?

It all began with the first sound track on June 24, 2020, it was the recording of a gong that was sent from Munich to Hong Kong. From there the process grew organically. Recordings from Munich were replied by a track from Hong Kong and vice versa. They were recordings from daily life situations, from nature and urban noises such as car traffic, demonstrations, music, chirping and so on. It was a dialogue of sound recordings between the artists in different cultural environments. It was deliberately done through WhatsApp to use but also to mimic the instant messaging in our daily globalised lifestyle. In the first two months there was a lot of traffic, often daily. After around two months the momentum got slow, for almost one month the group was silent. However, in retrospect, we realised this does not mean that we lost passion in the project. Like most conversations, participants are sometimes just “not in the mood” to talk. Things picked up its pace again.


After more than three months, we had collected a huge soundpool. These significant 72 tracks are building the base of the work, an audible conversation of almost an hour:

Hong Kong x Munich: The Initial Conversation


mira qrcode 1


Global Invitation: Spinning Webs

Not sure how to go on or what to do with this amount of material, we decided to widen the circle and invited artists around the globe to join this experiment. The collection of recorded clips was sent to four international musicians with complete freedom to play with them. The rule was to use only the recordings we made - without other sounds for their production. Four sound collages were created in this way.


mira qrcode 2

Sound Collage 1 Tracy Tse, Hong Kong
Sound Collage 2 Ka Yan Luk, Hong Kong
Sound Collage 3 Masahiko Saji, Japan
Sound Collage 4 Manuel Bellini, Italy


Visual Commentaries: Final Stage?

These four variations were finally sent to artists and friends in other countries. Each of them interpreted the sound collages in their own way. We, the basic group also participated. Written and visual commentaries were created: as a result the conversations can be perceived by different senses now and in this way are tangible from various angles.



mira qrcode 3

Tracy Tse and April Yi Kam, Hong Kong



mira qrcode 4 

Mira Johanna Sattelberger, Germany



mira qrcode 5 

Tobias Krug, Germany




Is it necessary to end an experiment at one point? Is there ever a final result of this project? Our experiment, an exchange without words, brought us closer in many ways. We were able to enter a jointly created space, spend time there together and gain an insight into the lives and the environment of the participants through the exchanged messages. There was no point we experienced any difficulties because of our cultural differences. Some recordings and individual interpretations could easily be assigned, giving insight into the other life. Others remained enigmatic, cryptic, but always left a sense of curiosity to capture the other more closely. Our developed method acted as a very sensitive tool of approximation. It can be said with certainty that the areas of meta conversation should still be explored in large numbers. The development of unconventional conversation methods serves the exchange of people from different cultures, backgrounds, age groups, mother tongue, ethics and so forth. It can bring various nationalities closer together and give a better understanding of other perspectives. Finally our specific worlds can melt into one another.