The Black Box... If Buildings Could Speak...

After a war that lasted 17 years in Beirut, it was necessary to reconstruct the Lebanese capital. A private company was commissioned to rebuild the downtown of Beirut, the most vital area of Lebanon before the war, but also a space that became a city of ghosts, surrounded by the war’s red line. A controversy came out due to the ways the downtown was rebuild: it was redesigned bearing in mind the tourists who would visit Lebanon, and therefore erasing all traces of war, martyrs, history or grief... An attempt to silence all the remains of our lives that still goes on today.

It was only my few first years of life without war, but still under the occupation of the Syrian regime. I decided to question a ravaged, restricted access building that I will refer to as the black box... They said it contained the keys of the City.

The black box became a percussion instrument. The percussion made the buildings speak. Sound resonated throughout the reconstructed downtown. The first people to arrive on site were a group from the Syrian second bureau, the secret intelligence services. They thought I was crazy. Even with a small fence in the wall, it was impossible to see the inside of the room. This room generated a negative sound field. It seemed it absorbed the sounds of our seven consecutive cities throughout history... - CN


Buildings, fancy or torn down, inhabited or deserted, open or closed, often reflect the history of the city they lay in. Cities, touristic or isolated, new or historical, always carry an underlaid burden that people seem to forget or pretend to forget. Black Box is a sound installation/performance that invites a Czech building to speak, drawing from the Beirut black box reverberation. At a certain moment during the performance, the original Beirut recording will be played, hence merging both cities. No matter how far located they are, all cities are similar at a certain moment and politically complement each other. The Czech black box could be a torn block, a construction site or even a touristic monument. It could be a regular indoor room, underground or upstairs, that would make the entire building nestling it resonate. Regular room also tell stories, narrations of an entire town. Despite its colourful appealing cachet, Prague holds another dimension, often unknown to the tourists. A dimension that this sound kitchen seeks to discover and question. The performance is also open to sound contributions from tourists and PQ participants who are encouraged to produce their own Prague sounds.

Design & Execution: Cyrille Najjar
Venue: New Stage of the National Theatre
Date & Time: Friday 26 June 2015, at 10.35 pm
Estimated Duration: 15 minutes

Cyrille Najjar
Graduate with a double Masters from the Royal College of Art RCA, UK, and the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, ALBA, Lebanon. Founder of White sur White, an inter-disciplinary design and innovation agency sitting at the intersection of architecture, technology, and materials. White sur White has been developing patents and technologies worldwide. Founder of White Lab, an open platform for designers and engineers giving them access to technologies like 3d printing and machinery. Najjar has exhibited at the RCA London, PAD, Gallerie Beatrice Saint Laurent, Paris, Salone del Mobile Milan and is represented by SMO Gallery amongst others. Designing unconventional structures and musical instruments, He has been heavily involved in the reinvention of vehicles for limited mobility users, eye tracking technologies and smart furniture. Immersed in renewable energy-based products for the masses, and specifically for crisis-based refugees, he designed an innovative Solar unit and was finalist at the Francophone Games in 2013. Website.

Sound Kitchen 2015 is a place of presentations and exchange in the field of sound design for performance. From 22 to 24 June 2015, the project brings together almost 50 sound artists presenting compositions, sound art, sound installations and sound design pieces. Co-organized in cooperation with the OISTAT Sound Design Working Group, an international body of sound designers and sound artists who primarily work in theatre and the performing arts.