the Austrian Cultural Forum as social instrument

Solo Exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York as centerpiece of Liquid Architecture / Frozen Music – Moving Sounds 2015

August 14 – September 16, 2015

traces of {dis]location - downstairs 1

press release:

“With this installation, Brooklyn-based, Austrian sound artist, composer, and improviser Bernd Klug transforms Raimund Abraham’s iconic Austrian Cultural Forum NY in Midtown Manhattan into a social musical instrument. The publicly accessible, interactive environment extends over three floors and uses the architectural and institutional structures of the building to create different zones and layers of engagement.
The visitors play an integral role: subtle feedback traces their movements as they walk through the installation, thus altering the soundscape; strings play with the question of the public’s conscious interaction; and electro-magnetic amplification sonifies the unheard noises of their cellphones and electronic devices. 
Within this interactive sonic environment, Klug continues his collaboration with German painter Johanna Tiedtke to create Bearing – a room within a room functioning as a musical instrument as well as a drawing in space. Bearing was first conceptualized in March-April 2015 at Galerie Freihausgasse Stadt Villach (Austria), the centerpiece of which was a metal frame hung on piano strings, which were precisely aligned geographically and geometrically to the ACFNY. Using vibrating zinc plates, the artists captured acoustic and visual traces left by visitors to the exhibition. At the ACFNY, these traces have been scanned to UV-prints on translucent paper, mounted on piano strings, which are, in turn, activated by transducers and will be played back like vinyl records. Bearing invites visitors into a dialogue, unfolding over time, with the work, the space, and the building.

Artists: Bernd Klug, Johanna Tiedtke

Concept Bernd Klug, Curator Christopher Zimmerman

Advisors Bob Bielecki, Ezekiel Healy, Justin Den Herder, James Kelly, Sarah Millsaps Towles

Johanna Tiedtke lives and works in New York. She holds a diploma in Fine Arts from Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg, and a MFA from Bard College, New York. Recent exhibitions include DOUBLE ACT, Overbeck- Gesellschaft Lübeck, Germany (2015); THIS RED DOOR, Kunsthalle Galapagos, New York (2014); PANEL DISCUSSION, Silvershed, New York (2014); HAMBURGER BAHNHOF, Kai Erdmann Gallery, Hamburg (2013); VISIONEN, Museum Martha, Herford, Germany (2013). Among other grants, she received a yearlong DAAD graduate fellowship. In 2015, Revolver will publish Johanna Tiedtke’s first monograph entitled HANNA BUROW.”

With generous support by

german consulate ny Thomastik nmusa

Here is a article and video about the installation, made by New Music USA in advance of the premier of the composition “string quartet and skyscraper”:

About the different works in this installation:

(by Meaghan Burke)

traces of [dis]location (Downstairs)

virtual locations, musical strings (made for a skyscraper by Thomastik­-Infeld Vienna), transducers, contact­microphones, eyebolts, digital audio mixer, preamplifiers, amplifiers and cables

Strings glitter just beyond our vision, feedbacks shift subtly with our every movement. The moment we try to grasp what we’re seeing and hearing, it ́s gone.
The social instrument has become (for logistical, ­institutional reasons) a voyeuristic experience: one visitor makes their way through the half­seen, half­heard web; the others watch, listening to their acoustic traces. The journey through the strings is a solitary one, a solo performance.
The artist’s original concept for this installation ­ placing a long string on the facade of the building to create a colossal violin ­ is criss­crossed and contained here, in the entangled, disorienting reality of realizing the simple dream of a straight line.





Bearing ­ by Johanna Tiedtke and Bernd Klug (staircase)

musical strings, UV-­prints on transparent paper, transducers, contact­microphone, turntables, laptop with audio interface and amplifiers

In this latest installment of Bearing, a collaboration between Johanna Tiedtke and Bernd Klug, the artists extend the continuing lives of their shared materials and concepts while subtly underscoring the unique internal architecture of the ACF.
A wisp­thin ladder of strings, whose grid matches that of the floor tiles, reaches from basement to the skylight, threading together the spaces of the installation. Seven record players play seven zinc plates, cut into 12” record format after being used in Tiedtke’s and Klug ́s April 2015 Bearing in Villach, Austria. The subtle scratching of these plates is fed into seven pieces of transparent paper, with UV scans of the same plates. The internal imperfections of the zinc, the smears and stains left behind by visitors ́ touches in Austria, are both visually and sonically projected here in New York, played back in the delicate crackling of tracing paper. Meanwhile, a contact microphone records the whole installation from opening to closing; these acoustic traces will take on a new life in the artists’ future collaborations.
The fragility of the work mirrors that of the dual identity of the building as well as both artists: what begins as a hyphenated nationality (Austrian­American, German­American) can become a memory of a memory of a memory, a beautiful, precariously projected past.

DSC_2689 DSC_2666 DSC_2646 DSC_2660


traces of [dis]location (upstairs)

microphones in the sewage room, on the A/C Units, and on the elevator shaft,
 electromagnetic coils on the fire detector control panel, the phone switching center and above a bench,
 digital audio mixer, amplifier and low­pass filter
, 2 HiFi speakers
, police scanner

…even our solitude is heard, eavesdropped.
A guitar pick­up hangs from the ceiling, inviting you to use your cell phones and electronic devices. As you hold your phone to the pick­up, the unheard noises of data and communication, of our technologically saturated environment, are brought to sound. Meanwhile, hidden pick­ups sonify the air conditioning, the fire alarm system, the telephone cables, the elevator, and the sewage system of the ACF. Through the speakers, we hear the hidden sound world of this building, the invisible systems which flow through, around, and under us. A police scanner lurks beneath the stairs. What we think is silent is heard; what we think is invisible is seen.

(all photos by David Plakke , Bearing by Adam Reich )