Welcome to the third edition of the e-journal

MAP - Media | Archive | Performance

MAP #3  Performing Sound:  Hear / See


Performing Sound –

The current edition of MAP explores two main lines of questioning. They arise from the basic premise that sound (incidental, ambient, musical sound…) is an integral part of every performance since human perception does not separate hearing from seeing, even if historical recording media – temporarily – created such a separation. The first line of questioning looks into different modes of performing sound; descriptive categories which, from a Performance Studies / Theatre Studies viewpoint (and soundpoint), intend to undermine tendencies to focus solely on what can be heard. The aim here is to integrate sound and vision just as they are inevitably integrated in artistic performance practice. The second line of questioning is concerned with the specifically acoustic element in performances; the relationship between medial access and sound, e.g. in phonography, and its re/presentation in fields identified as art. It considers the relationship between sounds and images in various constellations of the arts and inter media. Performance means updating sounds and images, symbols and signals, which are only potentially visible and audible while they are stored on media.
Performing sound becomes, then, the staging of a spatial-temporal form of presentation, the following of a score, instructions or medial constellation / technical apparatus and the carrying out of an action on/with (discovered, collected, recorded) sound, or its processing.



– Hear / See

belong together. “An ear alone is not a being” (John Cage). Work that focuses on acoustic cartography and natural ambient sounds, considers the relationship between the two modes of perception. It demonstrates the complexity of our acoustic surroundings, which we are generally unaware of. It shows the difference between what we associate with visual representations of landscape and its acoustic portrayal. Field recording is a method of archive-building which collects sounds in the world, stores them and transforms them in new and other contexts. 

The idea for the subject of this edition grew from the Resonanzen festival which took place in Leipzig in April 2010 (see www.resonanzen-leipzig.de). This third edition of MAP takes up some of the aspects and projects shown and discussed there and investigates them further.



Performing Sound – Hear / See

The articles in this edition are grouped into four chapters which, in the same vein as our previous issues, combine theoretical and artistic essays, by and about artists and project-makers.
There is plenty to read, some things to hear and some to see. In the spirit of this issue’s main focus, we have made use of opportunities to link text, sound and image. Supplementing the articles written for this edition and those made available to us for publication are text inserts in square brackets, i.e. citations intended to provide additional points and references. The endings and beginnings of consecutive chapters are designed to segue and overlap. For instance, the last article of the first chapter, Interfaces: Klang – Bewegung, on a project concerning the performative realization of various scores by Alvin Lucier, branches out into the next chapter, Sound / Szenen. Alvin Lucier, meanwhile, is more or less of an obvious reference point in a total of three articles: in Barbara Büscher’s essay, in the description of the project mentioned above, by Verena Eitel and in the accompanying audio sample of the work of Felix Kubin (Paralektronoia). We hope that this enables you, the readers, listeners and viewers, to discover links and cross-references between the articles other than those indicated by us.

Interfaces: Klang – Bewegung [Sound – Movement ] explores the connection between physical movement and sound in three different historical contexts: in Marcel Ducouts’ lesser known early reflections on movement-based sound production of the 1930s (Cramer); in the collision of two performance systems – sound production and body movement – in works by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Büscher); and in the now all but forgotten work of STEIM Amsterdam, developing interfaces to rethink the body movements and gestures of sound performers with electronic instruments (Otto). The multi-faceted collage of notations, artists’ comments on performative realization and excerpts from a reflective conversation about the project Empress of Sound – on the scores of Alvin Lucier – has already been mentioned.

Sound / Szenen [Sound / Scenes ] thinks around (or beyond) the boundaries between the arts, between high and low brow, while examining different aspects of the scenic or staged, of modes of (self) presentation. The chapter begins with an exploration of the underlying questions of the tonal qualities of performances (W.-D. Ernst). Max Haas shows how different elements of staging sound and visual style are blended into a play on hysteria and hystericization in the radio works and performances of Felix Kubin. Artist Steffi Weismann presents aspects of her performative works based on sound and the voice. A profile of composer/performer Tomomi ADACHI and his latest work Nuo – The Fish Market for Tubas, Cars, Musical Instruments and Chorus with Negimanabe extends the sound scene to Tokyo and provides insights into current performative practices which pick up the thread spun by Cage, Fluxus and process-oriented art.

Site specificity in performance and sound forms a thematic link between this essay and the following chapter, Klangräume eröffnen [Opening Soundspaces ]. Two very different (artistic) concepts of field recording and acoustic mapping are presented to the reader-listener by the audio pieces on/with Peter Cusack and by Patrick Franke. Franke contrasts development data on the island Greifswalder Oie with his own audio recordings of birds. In conversation with Jens Heitjohann, Cusack presents investigations of ‘dangerous’ locations by acoustic means.

By considering one of her own artistic works, the audio walk Des Schmetterlings zweifelnder Flügel, Julia Krause not only reflects on the relationship between sound and vision and between the listener-viewer’s imagination and his movement through exterior space. She also raises the question of the documentation and archiving of this kind of performance. And she develops a form of portrayal in this medium which itself rethinks the relationship between soundtrack, imagescape and text.

This consideration of different medial forms of archiving performance links up with the last chapter, Medien / Transformationen [Media / Transformations ], in which two articles sharpen the media-theoretical focus on performance phenomena: firstly, supplementing the projects using field recording methods, a consideration of the options for action arising – in the case of phonography – from the technical dispositive (Thoben). And secondly, concluding this edition are observations by Wolfgang Ernst on the ‘seemingness of the live’ [die Scheinbarkeit des Live] as a temporal dimension of medial transmission. The various ways and means by which media address the ‘viewer-listener’ (Butzmann) with comic combinations of sound / noise and images is demonstrated by Frieder Butzmann by the example of the films of Jacques Tati. A particularly remarkable instance of the integration of two media / fields of art is described by Anna Ramos in conversation with Jens Heitjohann: Radio Web Macba is the internet radio station of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; an independent artistic format which is part of one of Europe’s major museums. The project is accessed here in a tour through the archive featuring many audio links to try out.

We are glad to be able to present a comprehensive third edition, despite financial difficulties, and would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the contributors for their cooperation and input, as well as for their generosity in foregoing any remuneration.

(translation by Charlotte Kreutzmüller)


We look forward to your reactions, suggestions and further observations.

Barbara Büscher
Franz Anton Cramer
René Damm
Verena Eitel
Jens Heitjohann

April 2012-04-14

ISSN 2191-0901


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