Sarah Mauksch promoviert im Studiengang Musik & Performance (Universität Bayreuth) über Räume in Klanginstallationen und arbeitet an der Universität Frankfurt. Wolf-Dieter Ernst ist Professor für Theaterwissenschaft an der Universität Bayreuth.

Issue 4

Ars Acustica – Audio Art – Klangkunst

October 2012

ISSN 2191-253X

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Editorial 2012/4: Ars acustica – Audio Art – Klangkunst

von Sarah Mauksch, Wolf-Dieter Ernst

In editing the texts for the current issue of our journal we found certain questions constantly being reformulated. For example, is it possible to separate the concepts of Ars acustica, audio art and sound art from one another? Where do they overlap? And what synergistic effects are produced in the resultant works of art through the combination of essential components, namely, visual-artistic and acoustic elements? What is the relationship between the work and the performance if the border of the arts programme is blurred?

The relevance of a scholarly discourse on the manifestations of acoustic art is being demonstrated beyond the realms of musicology and theatre studies. Recently, the aesthetics of audiovisual art has even seen a new field of research. Dieter Daniels and Sandra Naumann have proposed the term "audiovisuology" to meaningfully account for the "variety of types and genres that connect the visual and the auditive to one another in different ways." By "audiovisuology" is meant the "convergences and divergences of audiovisual art forms, procedures, and relevant scientific research."1

Without a doubt this perspective could be used in dealing with works of audio art or even sonic art in which artists and composers stage and structure acoustical material through technically sophisticated and innovative means. Far removed from the examples in this issue, which are grouped quantitatively more in the realm of sound art, are the works of Ryoji Ikeda, which, among others, represent the branch of audiology.2

Considering that the range of issues of the art forms nourished by opposing sounding and visual elements is still somewhat narrower than with audio art – at least insofar as the products considered as Ars acustica are even now associated "only" with the New Hörspiel (radio drama) – the ideas of Klaus Schöning could show the way. Schöning conceives of Ars acustica as a musical-compositional "symbiosis" of noise, silence and speech.3

With the symbiosis of acoustic and visual art into Ars acustica, the resulting synergistic effects of the audible and visual on the audiovisual doubtless offer unparalleled versatility for performance possibilities and great potential for continuous development of aesthetic technical experiments.

The boundaries between author, composer, and director blur. Schöning lists several principles of Ars acustica: collage or montage, spatialization and structuring of temporality through rhythmic parameters, cinematic editing techniques such as the cut-up technique, the insertion of ambient sounds and their semantic reinterpre¬tation in other, media-based contexts of the artwork. These principles have their origin in the Neues Hörspiel and the technical innovation spurred by the initiation of narrative approaches at the end of the 1960s. Meanwhile, these principles have appeared in new contexts characteristic of acoustic art, which have figured not only in radio studios, but also in galleries, theatres, urban spaces and even in the form of a train (the project sounding D), which Barbara Barthelmes describes in her article for this issue in detail.

Symptomatic of each of these described art forms are the overlapping of media arrangements, the dissolution of genre boundaries and the demand on multiple senses. From an aesthetic point of view the interaction of separate sensory channels is thus both cause and symptom, because sensory perception is designed to act as a whole, not in its individual parts.

In this issue the focus is on the media genres that may be understood under the umbrella term of acoustical art. Here it is particularly important to trace the performative nature of these art forms to reflect their genuine performance character. This vantage point, which is often vehemently demanded in the scene setting by the artworks themselves, offers differentiated approaches to art produc¬tion developed from crossing boundaries and simultaneously sharpens it to illuminate an aspect of this art form.

Barbara Barthelmes (Berlin) creates in her article a fascinating summary of the long-term project Network for New Music (Netzwerk Neue Musik), which culminated in the year 2011 in a two-week spectacle – a railroad trip through Germany by the sound train, sounding D.

Giacomo Albert (Turin) in turn seeks the roots of sound installations up to 1966 based on their relationship to the recipients. He explains how different concepts of theatricality may be traced through the works’ reception.

On sound as a complement to silence, the article by the sound artist Elen Flügge (Berlin) explores the question, inter alia, of the importance of the presence or absence of recipients with regard to the effect an art object has. Here, sound artworks by Peter Ablinger and Akio Suzuki which do not sound are examined for their historical references to art forms since the 1960s. Where is music expressed in an artwork without sound? How can physicality and the specific content of mindful¬ness through absence be understood as the basis for these works?

In our review section, which in every issue is thematically free, Hans J. Wulff (Kiel) considers Daniela Schulz’s dissertation (2012) on German films with pop songs (Schlagerfilme) from the 1950s to the 1970s, and Ulrike Hartung (Frankfurt/Main) takes a close look at the documentary volume on Charles Wilson’s Watermill Center (published 2012).

Works of acoustic art, just like works of sound art, allow us to position hearing and seeing in specific ways in relation to one another. Or, in the words of Claudia Tittel: "[. . .] the origin of these intermediate artworks [is] inconceivable without the extended developments in the musical-compositional sphere or those in the artistic-visual realm."4 The present issue contributes its share to the debate on artistic manifestations and on the boundaries under discussion.

Sarah Mauksch

Wolf-Dieter Ernst



1 Dieter Daniels and Sandra Naumann, "Ewig aktuell: Überlegungen zu einer Geschichte der audiovisuellen Künste," in: Positionen. Texte zur aktuellen Musik, no. 91 (2012), pp. 2–6; p. 2. Cf. also the volumes edited by both authors entitled Audiovisuology, Cologne 2010 and 2011.

2 Two works of Ikeda were recently experienced in Germany. At the beginning of the year 2012 the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin dedicated a special exhibition to Ikeda's work db in its series, "Works of Music by Visual Artists." In addition, his work Superposition was included in the exhibition Sound Art: Sound as a Medium of Art in the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM). Further information can be found on the artist's homepage under (accessed 8 Dec. 2012).

3 Klaus Schöning, "Ars Acustica – Ars Performativa," in: Performance im medialen Wandel, ed. Petra Maria Meyer, Munich 2006, pp. 149–177; p. 150.

4 Claudia Tittel, "Zwischen den Stühlen: Potenziale einer hybriden Gattung," in: Positionen. Texte zur aktuellen Musik, no. 90 (2012), pp. 34–37; p. 34.