Dealing with sound:frame, with music, visualization and their creative interplay with other artistic disciplines, it's become apparent how different contexts call for different approaches.
In the context of an exhibition, I find it very important to display artistic points of view that deal with the system that art is, and embark on the construct that is an exhibition. Quite a few internationally prominent audiovisual artists have found their way of expression in the interaction of music/sound and visual/digital media. Audiovisual art is a niche branch of media art, a fuzzily defined art form itself. Since numerous audiovisual artists didn't evolve in an academic system of art (for example a program for media art), outsiders need to undertake positioning in a broader system. While the club context, the development of electronic and novel music play a part and multimedia programs at tertiary institutions are getting more and more important, the most artists go their individual way in finding a suitable place of their own.
Some artists, like Monolake & Tarik Barri, Herman Kolgen, Rainer Kohlberger, depart and Jan Jelinek & Karl Kliem however have defined and occupied their particular roles. They have a permanent spot in the club and concert scene on the one, and in the art and exhibition context on the other hand. They mingle with the respective systems and focus on their unique characteristics while retaining their personal hallmarks.
sound:frame festival 2012
12.04.2012 - 29.04.2012
A cooperation between sound:frame and MAK
Fundamental Forces is a collaborative audiovisual research project and installation work by Robert Henke and Tarik Barri.
Visual shapes emerge as the result of complex mathematical operations, are transformed and thrown around by the power of the underlying codes but they seem to be alive, there is a sense of plausibility and realism even in the most abstract moments, a sense that is created by the careful adjustments and tunings of all details, resulting in an overwhelming and highly immersive 360 degree projection combined with a deeply spatial auditive component that seems to span a space of nearly infinite size. Fundamental Forces has no narrative, it simply is. The title refer- ences concepts of physics that aim to describe the basic foundations about how our universe is constructed. It aims to find a concept of eternal validity, a concept that helps to describe not only what happens now and here but also helps us to understand the world outside our experience.
By using a self programmed and constantly improved and extended software, the project can be seen as a successive technological and artistical approximation in the field of audiovisual apperception of the artist-duo. Every screening can be seen as snap shot of the actual progress. In its actual state Fundamental Forces is a multiple high definition project with sur- round sound. The visual part is based on Tarik Barri’s “Versum” a self-programmed computer animation engine. The auditory component was created by Robert Henke using MaxMSP, Max4Live and Ableton Live, a software he co-developed.
Robert Henke is active as composer, audio- visual performance-artist and professor in sound design at the University of Arts in Berlin. As founder and main member of the project Monolake he gained international reputation as one of the leading artists in the field of electronic club music culture. He is also re- nowned for being one of the developers of the music software “Ableton Live”.
His art is defined as a potentially endless and slowly evolving state, stimulating the audi- ence to immerge and forget about time. His surround-sound performances and multiple video projections create spatial experiences decoupled from the given space. In interaction between audiovisual art and the physical space all layers become one.
Robert Henke’s sonic explorations are rooted in academic sound research and computer based electronic music as well as in contempo- rary club culture. He works with new technologies such as wave field synthesis and ambisonics (a series of recording / replay techniques using multi- channel mixing technology) and uses large scale and high definition projections to create a situation of total immersion.
Henke’s performances and installations have been shown and others at the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the PS1 in New York and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy. Henke has released more than twenty albums. His work “Layering Buddha” received an honor- ary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2007.
With his cooperation project Monolake, he con- siderably shaped the Berlin techno music scene. Currently Robert Henke is touring with the material of his latest release “Ghosts”. He is supported visually by the dutch artist Tarik Barri, who contributes realtime generated complex animations during the concerts. From the musi- cal point of view, Monolake does not correspond to any genre definition. For Robert Henke it’s rather: “music with a lot of bass, a lot of percus- sions and a wide and deep sound design.”
Tarik Barri is a Dutch audiovisual composer and software developer. He started programming at the age of seven and has been making electronic music since he was a teenager. After his first official musical releases at the age of twenty one, he quit his studies in biological psychology to pursue the study of music and technology at the Utrecht School of Music and Technology. During this studies he saw how the meth- ods he used to create music could be adapted for the moving image. He programmed his own software to develop new tools for audio-visual performance, composition and data representation.
Using these tools, Tarik Barri aims to discover new synergies and aesthetics in the combination of image and sound. The fundamental concept, reflected in all his works, is that image and sound are connected in an inextricable way: the viewer hears images and sees sounds.
Windfields is part of a work series of Herman Kolgen. The first project of the series „Urban Wind“, presented at “Incheon International Digital Art Festival 2010” in Korea, is an installation made out of accordions. Sensors which are placed at different strategic points of the city (like intersections, bridges, parks), analyse the velocity and the wind direction. Data gets transferred to the instruments wirelessly. Through the harmonically differentiated wind directions euphonic soundscapes emerge; the public can listen to the pulmonary dynamics of the city.
In Windfields, Kolgen examines the properties of wind, turbulences and whiffles and translates them into three-dimensional patterns. Moments of simple, natural levitation contrast dazingly with generative algorithms. Windfields takes
the audience on a tour through the impetuous conventions of air streams and plays with them artistically. The horizontal alignment of the installation becomes a visual extension of the landscape.
Herman Kolgen is a multidiscipli- nary artist who lives and works in Montreal. He describes himself as an “audiocinetic sculptor” whose instruments are sound and image. Herman Kolgen creates objects in form of installations, video and film works, as well as performances and sound sculptures. His works are highly intense in sensitive reaction, shifting continuously from brutal to fragile impulses. The digital and electronic components are combined with notions of the organic causing a certain tension in its perception.
From 1996 to 2008 Herman Kolgen has dedicated the majority of his time to the duo Skoltz-Kolgen, with Dominique T. Skoltz as second member. Thereby the artists explore new processes and techniques and their expressive possibilities using film, photography, sound art, real time manipulations and installation. Skoltz_Kolgen’s audiovisual compositions try to create a balance between organic matter and data, investigating hybrid forms of digital synthesis.
Herman Kolgen also collaborated with numerous musicians and electronic music composers like Taylor Deupree, AGF, Sawako and Akira Rabelais. His artworks have been presented at the transmedi- ale in Berlin, Venice Biennale, 6, Ars Electronica in Linz as well as Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Herman Kolgen is also the recipient of numerous prestigious prizes including Qwartz, Ars Electronica or Best Experimental Film Award from the Independent Film Festival of New York and Los Angeles. His installations can be seen as “spatialisations” of sound characterized by a high quality of immersion In his artistic process, Herman Kolgen assembles many series of temporal sequences with the aid of various digital video recording and photographic systems to flexible and modular body. The creation and use of random systems of autogenerative image and sound also allows the design of audiophonic spaces.
In his performance video „Inject“, for which he received an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica 2010, he explores the comportment of a human body injected in a water-filled cistern in a very affecting way.
Since 2001 Jan Jelinek and Karl Kliem are working together creating audiovisual performances. Based on already existing structures from Jelinek’s music the duo develops individual image and sound compositions. Those musical structures are then – improvised in concert situations and installations – interwoven with minimalistic abstract visual elements.
For the exhibition «substructions», and with technical support from Daniel Kohl, Jelinek and Kliem created the video Neonlicht with multi-tracked sound which is specifically adapted to the given large format.
The works of Jan Jelinek are all about transformation and adaption of sound and music, specifically about translating popular music into abstract and reduced texture. By doing so, Jan Jelinek does not use traditional music instruments, he rather creates collages of diminutive sound samples.
In 1998 Jelinek starts to release the first productions initially under the aliases “Farben” and “Gramm”. In 2000 his collage creations are played at EXPO 2000 in Hannover in the Young Media Pavillion created by the design group 3DeLuxe. In 2001 he releases the album “Loop-Finding- Jazz-Records” (~scape), based on the editing of jazz records, under his real name. During the following years, Jan Jelinek works together with artists such as Sarah Morris (ICE- Compositions) or German author Thomas Meinecke, collaborates with the Japanese improvisation ensemble “Computer Soup” or the Australian jazz-trio “Triosk” and performances audiovisual concerts with the video artist Karl Kliem amongst others shown at Centre Pompidou in Paris, the transmediale in Berlin or the sound:frame festival in Vienna.
In 2007 he founds together with Hanno Leichtmann and Andrew Pekler the improvisational trio “Groupshow”, who are known for declining any repertoire or defined time frame during their performances.
In 2008 Jelinek founds the music label “faitiche”. Six releases follow and present, amongst other concepts, the unknown oeuvre of a componist from the early years of electronic music, whose biography switches from fiction to reality – Ursula Bogner, or deal with the question of copy- right in public places.
The multimedia artist Karl Kliem (*1969) runs his Label “Dienststelle” in Frankfurt am Main / Germany, where he develops concert visualizations for musicians in the field of electronic music. Karl Kliem studied at the “Hochschule für Gestaltung” in Offenbach and is a founding member of “Involv- ing Systems” as well as “MESO – Digital Media Systems Design”, in Frankfurt.
The music visualizations are specifically prepared for each piece of music and performed in realtime in an improvisatory manner. By doing so, Kliem assigns certain musical parameters to minimal- abstract visual elements, being controlled by e. g. frequency analysis. In that sense Karl Kliem does not define himself as a classical VJ; he rather explores the inherent musical components in a synaesthetical way.
Karl Kliem has been cooperating with musicians such as Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jan Jelinek, Mouse on Mars, Sleeparchive, Thomas Brinkmann and others.
With Humming, Fast and Slow, Rainer Kohlberger specifically developed an audiovisual work for the sound:frame festival 2012. His projection shows algorithmi- cally generated abstract imagery, which challenges the viewer’s gaze, to thereby provide a high level of immersion. Due to blurring and wavering surfaces, the artist makes it impossible to focus the eye on one motif. One’s own perceptual field is irritated. The projected areas and patterns evolve in constant modulation. Humming, Fast and Slow is subtle in its details and at the same time energetic and puristic in its spatial experience. Rainer Kohlberger presents a fusion of abstraction and the digital, creating individual visual aesthetics. The constant drift of forms is associated with the nuanced movements in his sound – an interlude between the audio and the digital-graphics emerges.
In the age of medial overload of reality imitational images and their manipulative functionality, Rainer Kohlberger questions and criticizes through presentation of abstract modeling its intrinsic impact and simultaneously challenges one’s own perception.
Rainer Kohlberger lives in Berlin and works as a freelance video artist and designer. His art is based on abstract images algorithmically adapted to noise aesthetics. His work is mainly presented in form of installations and live visuals, as well as mobile applications. For his work “field” he won the ZKM App Art Award 2011 for artistic inventions. Rainer Kohlberger already performed and exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Prague, Barcelona, Warsaw, Toronto and Paris.
Leonhard Lass and Gregor Ladenhauf have titled their current series of works “Perpetual Verge”. Both “Delta Aurigae” (comissioned by sound:frame) and “Glyph” (commissioned by the artist in residence program of subnet), two audiovisual installations realised in 2011, are also part of this body of work.
In the same vein that Depart want to signal a look for new horizons with their name, this series is a symbol for the boundary points to uncharted territory.
The series is distinguished by a neverending search, a careful approach to the unforeseen, the combination of the unknown and familiar surroundings, and the examination of format and scale. The term verge is also used as a word for a decorated gable in the English language, and so Depart know how to ornate and overload their works both from the inside and the outside with cryptic, partially out of context, symbolism.
Modernity has gone so far as to stylize ornamentation as a crime, to this day the stereotype epitome of modern design is a kind of cool, no-frills understatement. Clarity and candor are the desired hallmarks of a lasting impression. From their early days of collaboration, Depart have cherished the idea of a conscious overload and excessive ornateness in form and matter. A closer look at their works will almost always reveal a very playful approach. Depart are flirting with the idea of a collective subconscious, with the possibility arbitrarily linking and cross referencing materials, all the while recoding them. As part of a generation that was one of the first to grow up using the internet on a daily basis, the plethora of available information on the internet is a highly welcome playground for Depart. On the other hand they tend to show a nearly scholarly motivated thoroughness and no stone is left unturned when it is time to breathe life into a new golem of issues.
For this year’s given framework at the sound:frame festival with the title “substructures”, Depart have found a topic that can recurringly be found in their work. They show the audiovisual piece The Flood Panels, which deals predominantly with periodic movement. The tides, alongside the appearances of sun and moon and seasonal change (which are of course bound to local climate specifics) are one of the most archaic rhythmical structures in human life and perception besides the human body itself. At the same time, the flood is almost like an antagonist to the substructures of buildings and settlements built by human beings directly into or close to large bodies of open water. It is play- fully flowing around and scouring them, constantly challenging the structures’ stability.
As a figure of speech, the flood in its biblical context is synonymous with new beginnings and also the survival of a chosen group of spe- cies. Given the gloomy doomsday warnings surrounding the year 2012, this topical analogy may be regarded as a rather cheeky com- mentary on the artists’ behalf.
The ocean as a medium of the flood and source of all life on earth is another important factor in this virtual drama, with all its romantic implications and elemental force. As much as the oceans are, in modern times, utilized and used as the embodi- ment of recreation, sounded as hindrances for data connections and movement of goods and exploited as a food source and huge dumpster at the same time, they have always been seen as a symbol for the big unknown, deep-sea monsters and nature taking vengeance on man’s disrespectful penetration of all environmental territories. In a time when tsunamis and flood disasters like in Indonesia or Japan seem to become order of the day it isn’t surprising that a lot of indigenous island people are traditionally rather awestruck by the sea and its power.
In its adaptation by Depart, the flood is used as a macro-rhythmic time emitter, whose periodic movement is paradoxically mirrored and cyclically broken by arbitrarily programmed entities. Generative, abstract forms are continuously mutating, their evolution confronted by semantic gestures. A weird dance, a canonical change is constructed via convoluted rhythmic struc- tures and the interplay of specific elements, who condition and determine each other in partially chaotic coherence. The objects drift in some kind of mysterious limbo in their insular being at the verge of “beyond” and “beneath”, motivated to synchronize, always looking for friendly forces to increase stability and find peace. But the oscillating power of time is constantly putting a spoke in their wheel. The audience is facing a bizarre love triangle of form, movement and change. Depart conduct their shipwrecked protagonists in this digital intimate bathtub play as they see fit and thus manage to elaborate a suspense between reincarnations, permutations and the futile pursuit of stability in empiric matters.
Leonhard Lass and Gregor Ladenhauf are Depart.
Their projects explore the depths of field between text, image and sound and range from interactive installation pieces to netbased applicatons, performances and A/V live shows.
With their personal approach to multimedia, Depart create unique moments that are coined by a formally rigorous and profound aesthetics. They unite precision and emotion in an abstract and multi-faceted discoball to mirror fragments of the audience's experience. Depart have a clear incentive: to leave you with an immediate, yet timeless mark. They would rather constantly depart than be stopped in their tracks, they want to remove themselves and their audience from within and out of the bound- aries of the self, the farther the better. For this purpose Lass and Ladenhauf have chosen the path of confusion and camouflage tac- tics, served up on a silver platter.
The works of Depart can be enigmatic in parts, quite often they are deliberately dark and dazzling at the same time and mostly contain a highly potent mixture of virtual mechanisms, poetic moments and hermetic symbolism.
Depart always wave the idea of a gesamtkunstwerk like a flag behind their backs always employing a certain kind of hocus-pocus, which in their opinion works as an immersion booster.
Nonetheless, Lass and Ladenhauf have managed to find a very individual style that is trademark- ing their works independently of the enabling technologies. They seem to integrate mythological, archaic content as effortlessly into their works as walking a very fine semiotic and semantic line along- side experimental poetry.
Thus reaching their declared goal, a kind of abstract poetry of the moment, they are able to bestow a certain kind of aura on their works that are increasingly taking the form of installation and object oriented projects. Depart are trying to tell stories, without talking too big and shooting their mouth off, all the more trying to be controversial to themselves.