My City is a Hungry Ghost is a dense collage of language, sound and video, which oscillates between moments of introspection and political articulation. It is designed as a four channel video loop including a Mini FM radio transmitter. In an installation comprised of video screens and hundreds of tiny loud speakers, Jan will be broadcasting and receiving his own radio transmission from within the gallery.

My City is a Hungry Ghost is based on found excerpts from a variety of literary sources revolving around the issue communication at the nexus of media, politics and subjectivity.

The content of the video is based on a montage of four voices each represented by one actor standing or sitting in an empty room with one chair. Each actor is brought to light when her or his voice is heard or otherwise stays in the dark and is only lit by the light of passing cars falling through venetian blinds. While remaining silent for themselves, they let us tune into their thoughts and inner monologues. And as the four monologues expand, a larger conversation unfolds investigating poetics and politics contemporary urban life.

Italo Calvino’s “The Invisible Cities” served as first inspiration for My City is a Hungry Ghost. Calvino’s description of the City of Melania was of particular fascination. Melania is reported to be the place for an ever continuing dialogue among generations of denizens. Although through its course the participants may die and new participants are born and take their place in one role or another. Re-contextualising Calvino’s Melania, ‘My City is a Hungry Ghost‘ is an re-enactment of found excerpts from a variety of literary sources* revolving around the issue communication in the making at the nexus of media, politics and subjectivity.

Watch the full length video as a four-in-one screen adapted version:
Use the embedded video player at the top or alternatively use the direct vimeo link (27’22”).

Listen to the soundtrack of the installation (27’22”)

Text References / Sources of Inspiration

  • Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection, 2007
  • Barbara O’Brien, Operators and Things, 1958
  • Piotr Czerski, We, the Web Kids; 2012
  • Anthony G. Banet, Jr.; Interview with Wilfred R. Bion; Los Angles, April 1976

unrelated relatedness

My City is a Hungry Ghost is together with planet ocean and Nature in the Dark part of the unrelated relatedness series. Each work brings into play the different elements, tactics or technologies that we employ in our search to unify the inner and outer worlds that we inhabit.

This series is part of Jan’s creative Ph.D in Media Arts at the Centre for Creative Arts, La Trobe University, in which he is investigating the phenomena of contemporary sound and communication practice and environmental aesthetics.
Ph.D title: From Sound to Waves to Territories, supervisors: Norie Neumark, Hugh Davies.


This is a production 2012/3.

Concept / Direction: Jan Hendrik Brüggemeier
Sound design: Jan Bartholomaeus
Director of Photography: Scott Lewis, Zoopatrol / Melbourne
Multimedia programming: Zsolt Barat, Softmonsters / Berlin
Post-Production / Compositing: Curtis Moyes, Green Brain Media / Melbourne
Installation design: Silvana Iannello / Melbourne


Female Voice 1: Tracey Callander
Male Voice 1: Garth Ernstzen
Female Voice 2: Marita May Dyson
Male Voice 1: Jez P.A. Speelman

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Introduction to From Sound to Waves to Territories

related posts:
From Sound to Waves to Territories
Dowload PhD thesis / chapters


This dissertation undertakes a quest for a poetics of responsibility in the age of the Anthropocene. I aim to extend the concept of a poetics of responsibility beyond the literary discussion, where it was originally coined by ecocritical theorist Greg Garrad. My thesis does so by tracing sound and radio waves from outer space, to the inside of the human body, and along cross-species boundaries to the deepest depths of the ocean. With reference to the theoretical work of Michel de Certeau, and media arts practice under the wider label of tactical media, I argue that critical reflections of political media arts practice occurring at the nexus of politics and technology can make an important contribution to the quest for a poetics of responsibility. In making this argument, I draw on works that incorporate sonic and radio related practices from the early 20th century radio amateur movement as well as work of contemporary media arts practitioners including Natalie Jeremijenko, Marko Peljhan and my own. My argument is epistemologically informed by philosopher Jacques Rancière’s theories concerning the political dimension inherent in the aesthetic and vice versa, and the work of media theorist Geert Lovink, a key figure in establishing the concept of tactical media. In order to understand the merger of creative practice and theory in tactical media, I employ the notion of fluid thinking in waves — depicting art making as the tactical pondering over aesthetic experience, technological possibilities and political context. Based on my own artistic exploration in a series of works titled unrelated relatedness, I suggest that the combination of technological and sensory perceptions in media arts practice can extend and refine the human sense of situated awareness and shift how we as humans understand our position on this planet.

[Download PhD thesis as PDF]

0. Phd Thesis Introduction

The chief role of creative intellect is to hold society together. – Nicholas Humphrey (1976, p. 308)

[Download Introduction as PDF]

Prior to undertaking my PhD research, the focus of my art practice as radio maker and media artist revolved around issues concerning the role of communication at the nexus of media, politics and subjectivity. This focus evolved with the PhD research – practical and theoretical – as I will discuss in this thesis. This change resulted from and in turn shaped the research in the context of my growing concern with ecological issues, thinking and artistic practices. My initial point of departure for my artistic inquiry has been my desire to explore the relationship between inner and outer worlds. Also central to this was the role that media play in this relationship, and the relationship between how we communicate and how this structures the way we relate to the environment around us. During the research process and my expanded understanding of ‘environment’, I came to understand these relationships through the poetic notion of unrelated relatedness. This notion conveys for me the sense of a mental confusion, a grappling on an individual level with an understanding of ecological interconnectedness, while at the same time, as a species, we keep pushing beyond the limits of planetary boundaries. It was this poetic notion that would hold together the series of art works in this thesis – works which helped to guide the theoretical research. As a result, my PhD, looking at communication from an ecological perspective, moved on from my earlier works investigating modes of communication within a more urban context. I became focused on phenomena such as the interrelatedness of ecosystems, which I explore as a shared space between humans and non-humans beyond the local.

The poetic notion of unrelated relatedness became, then, the leitmotif for structuring the writing of this thesis and the title of a series of three works that form the artistic output of my practice-based research: My City is a Hungry Ghost, Nature in the Dark and planet ocean, which are discussed in Chapter 3. It was, though, actually only after completing the Nature in the Dark project that followed the My City is a Hungry Ghost installation that this understanding crystallised — as this is often the case with practice based research.


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Supervisors & Research Panel

related posts:
From Sound to Waves to Territories

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From the foundation’s regulatory statutes:
“The foundation’s purpose is to preserve the sites of the crimes as sites of mourning and commemoration, to provide these sites with a scientifically founded form and outward appearance and to make them accessible to the public in an appropriate manner, as well as to promote the research of the respective historical occurrences and their conveyance to the public. …

At the Buchenwald Memorial, the history of the Nazi concentration camp is to receive priority within this context. The history of the Soviet internment camp is to be integrated into the scientific and museum work to an appropriate degree. At the Mittelbau-Dora Memorial, special attention is to be devoted to the subject of the exploitation of inmates for the production of weapons of destruction. The history of the two memorials’ political instrumentalisation during the era of the German Democratic Republic is also to be represented. …

The foundation’s obligations include the organisation and realisation of permanent and temporary exhibitions, scientific colloquia and cultural events on the national and international level, the educational guidance of the visitors with a special focus on young people, and scientific documentation, research and publication in connection with the work of the memorial.”

Article 2 of the Thuringian Act providing for the establishment of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation


photo credit: Buchenwald and Mittelbau Dora Memorial Foundation

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Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation
topf & sons, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation

(short excerpt of the recorded texts in German)

A 4 channel audio installation which was designed for the travelling exhibition
The Engineers of the ‘Final Solution’. Topf & Sons – Builders of the
Auschwitz Ovens
by the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation.

In this work, actors read text fragments from historical documents. The fragments
come either from letters written by the prisoners in the form of secret
messages or from eye-witness reports at boards of enquiry in 1945 and
after. This work was realised by Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier and Ludger Hennig.

The exhibition has been shown at the following places aside others:
Jewish Museum Berlin, City Museum of Erfurt, Ruhrlandmuseum Essen, LWL
Industrial Museum, Ziegeleimuseum in Lage, Documentation Centre at the site of the Nuremberg Rally.


photo credit: Sabeth Stickforth

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optimistic disease facility
optimistic decease facility

Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier was commissioned to design the soundtrack for the film Optimistic Disease Facility: A documentary film about the fine artist Boris Lurie, a co-founder of the art movement NO!Art and Nazi concentration camp prisoner. Directed by Naomi Tereza Salmon.

(c) Buchenwald and Mittelbau- Dora Memorials Foundation – English with German subtitles – 58′ 37” – DVD, PAL

From the NO!art website:

“The life and work of Boris Lurie creates a radical, brusque, and at the same time a poetic cosmos. In New York where Lurie lives within his collages, the experience of the Nazi concentration camps seeps through everything. Apartment studio and laboratory all reflect a very personal artistic view of the past which surrounds him in the present.

After meeting the artist Naomi Tereza Salmon (who lives and works in Germany), at Buchenwald during the retrospective exhibition of his works in 1998/99, he gave her permission to document his apartment, studio and storage space. A dialogue developed, covering a range of issues, mainly about the past, about living in New York, about the Palestinian issue, including discussions on Stalin and capitalism.

The film is a result of this encounter, laconically trying to capture the authentic situation, and was made as a low budget project. Considering the fact that Lurie is the founder of the No!art movement, the making of the film is inspired by its manifest, which presents an opposition to american mass culture and to the commercalizing process of art, putting in question the scene of mainstream and pop art, creating a genuine ideological and fundamental aesthetic approach of its own.

The music, which was composed specifically for this purpose by the German music and internet performer Jan Brüggemeier (pingfm – internet radio broadcasting), serves as an adhesive as well as an interpretative component. An examination of the metaphysical space, focusing on the encounter between the two artists and the experiences of each of them with their immediate surrounding takes place. The film offers no answers but presents the questions which arise in it in a clear way for the viewer to reflect on them.”

More information about Naomi T. Salmon

NO!Art website

Naomi T. Salmon’s website

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Editor: Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier for Heritage Radio Network (EU)

Chapter 06: The Buchenwald memorial – about current-history memorial work in Germany


  • Rikola-Gunnar Luettgenau, Director of the Buchenwald Memorial, Curator of “Topf & Sons: The Engineers of the ‘Final Solution’, the Builder of the Auschwitz-ovens”
  • Ronald Hirte, Author of the online-project “Found Objects – a picture-catalogue” of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation and fellow of the „Media of History / History of Media Ph.D programme at Bauhaus-University Weimar


  • the Foundation memorial-places Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora
  • exhibition on the company “Topf & Sons”: “The Engineers of the ‘Final Solution’ – Builders of the Auschwitz Ovens”
  • Ronald Hirte, “Offene Befunde – Ausgrabungen in Buchenwald”[ISBN 3-922618-23-2]
  • online image catalogue “Found Objects”
  • audio archaeology, Dr. Friedrich Kittler
  • Dr. Volkhardt Knigge, director of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation


  • “Concerto funebre for violin and string orchestra” from Karl-Amadeus Hartmann [Cd: 65023 AV]
  • Random_Inc with “tales outside the framework of orthodoxy #23” [Cd: ritornell rit 020 c/o mille plateux]

Listen to the complete programme of “Are Museums just digging in the Past?”:
high res version:

low res version:

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