Serendipity FS16 – Audio-Visual Fieldwork


This elective course and thesis elective in the spring semester 2016 will investigate the glacier landscapes of the swiss alps.


We can’t imagine Switzerland without its glaciers. They formed the landscape we live in and remain a central element in our perception of the Swiss Alps – as ‘wild’ nature, aesthetic experience and natural resource. Based on the changes we have seen in the last 150 years, they may soon disappear forever.

Encountering one such colossus of ice, we want to examine the glacier terminus, the point where the ice surfaces from beneath the snow. What will we discover by looking and listening into the glacier’s depth? Can we find the essence of this large landscape phenomenon in its microstructure? We want to come in direct contact with the ice, search for traces of movement and time.

Through a weekend trip to the glacier of Morteratsch we will investigate its topology, depth and surface in a new way. On site you will experiment with two types of landscape recordings: First, you will learn to take pictures with an analog, large-format photo camera to turn your focus to the ice’s structure, discovering in it layers of movement and collapse, light refraction and color gradient. Second, you will make sound recording with contact microphones to connect with the acoustic body of the entire glacier, unveiling the close and distant sounds of ice, snow and water.

Back on campus, you will develop your pictures in the laboratory and edit your sound recordings in our new Audio-Visual-Lab. Finally, you will present your work using a large format light box surrounded by the multichannel audio system.

Notes: The course will be limited to 16 students. Participation on all dates of the course is mandatory. The Chair will provide financial support, additional costs (overnight stay, food and drinks) are asked to be paid by the participants. Basic trekking experience and equipment are required

(The elective course is mandatory to do the thesis elective)

Returning to the Morteratsch Glacier in June, you will find the ice melting, moving and collapsing, transforming the place into a loud and threatening environment. In contrast to the elective course, you will face a completely different landscape in the thesis elective, which require new approaches of recording.

What can we learn from this slowly moving landscape and the process of land formation in a long term observation? What could define a new perception of the Alps without glaciers? You will formulate your own questions on the topic and develop these during a block seminar in June.







Prof. Christophe Girot
Matthias Vollmer
Ludwig Berger
Johannes Rebsamen


Matthias Vollmer


COURSE BLOG: See the on going work from students




25.02.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Introduction to Elective Course (HIL H 40.9)

03.03.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Introduction to Techniques

05.03.2016, Workshop on site (full day)
06.03.2016, Workshop on site (full day)

10.03.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Introduction to Film developing (ETH Photolabor)

17.03.2016, NO COURSE (Seminar week)

24.03.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Introduction to sound editing

31.03.2016, NO COURSE (Easter Holidays)

07.04.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Mid-Crit, presenting work in progress

14.04.2016 12:45 – 14:30 Work on projects, individual meetings

21.04.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Work on projects, individual meetings

28.04.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Work on projects, individual meetings

05.05.2016, NO COURSE (Holidays)

12.05.2016, 12:45 – 14:30 Final Crit

June 2015: 2 Weeks with Workshop on site (Elective Course is mandatory)