040509: The exhibition ‘Notation’ at the ZKM Karlsruhe

In the early days of sonic imaging systems The exhibition ‘Notation’ at the ZKM Karlsruhe “Notation – Kalkül und Form in den Künsten” (Notation – Calculation and Form in the Arts) was highly acclaimed by critics after it was first shown at the Berlin Academy of Arts. Now an extended version of the exhibition is shown at the ZKM in Karlsruhe. It gives a sensational insight into the pioneer days of art history when scientific experiments and mathematical operations were united with art concepts. In 1880, when Etienne-Jules Maray commenced using photography as a means of recording to illustrate motion in space and time, this already approximates the abstract image sequence by the avant-garde film virtuoso Oskar Fischinger. His concept of setting musical compositions and visual sequences in congruence to one another opens up the path to today’s natural amalgamation of sound with motion pictures and the digital matrix of art, music, and club culture. The exhibition at the ZKM focuses on pioneer developments in this area and is conceptualized as a multilayered puzzle. The underlying character of music, painting, choreography, architecture, photography, and film dating back to1900 and the subsequent development of digital art are retraced as complex sign systems and correlated on the basis of their linguistic characteristics. Designs by such diverging protagonists such as John Cage, Walter Benjamin, Mary Wigman, Ezra Pound, and Marcel Broothaers, Allan McCollum and Mel Bochner or Edgard Varèse and Iannis Xenakis evoke comparable versions of a genre-divisive art production. This search for morphic resonances might be confusing, but this kind of extensive reflection facilitates the exposure of source codes as chains of permutation in terms of Friedrich Kittler’s denomination of Aufschreibesysteme (Discourse Networks or forms of notation). The masterminds of new aesthetic expressions hardly paid attention to taking tradition and technology into consideration. The exhibition, curated by the Hubertus von Amelunxen, Dieter Appelt, and Peter Weibel, displaying nearly 500 positions by more than 100 artists, pursues the inception of integrating appliances into the production of art. Ultimately, this led to the current integration of sonic visual arts into the context of fine arts. Following the exhibition “Sons & Lumieres” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2002, “Notation” is the unparalleled largest project of its kind. In addition, the theoretical content mediated by the accompanying catalogue, qualifies this compendium to be an independent publication. By Roland Schöny Notation. Kalkül und Form in den Künsten ZKM Karlsruhe, until 26. 07.09 www.zkm.de/notation

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