Loudspeakers are installed everywhere in the KIT. Waves of sound sprawl through the space. Visitors immerse themselves in sound installations and become part of an acoustic stream. The stream combines musical, poetic, sculptural and spatial elements in one installation. Different artistic fields are mixed and put the visitors in an active role: Only their perception makes the auditory installation accessible and allows contextualisation of spatiality and content. Attentive listening is the key.
KOMM is art that starts a dialogue with both the space it enters and the people therein. Usually the perception experience in exhibitions of fine art is dominated by visual stimuli. KOMM foregrounds auditory stimuli and puts the visual subsistence on hold.
Seen from an art historical perspective sound installations are a young art form. At the beginning of the 20th century musicians and artists began to step out of their traditional, strictly segmented forms of expression. Sound in itself became an artistic subject. Formerly being a medium exclusive to music, it was now partly presented as fine art was before.
Composers such as Erik Satie and John Cage radically broadened the understanding of music. Kurt Schwitters with “Sonate aus Urlauten” and Hugo Ball as creator of sound poems transformed, amongst others, sound into a medium for the fine arts.
Fluxus understood life as a musical process. Since 1962 Fluxus concerts across the Rhineland were held with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Nam Jun Paik, Joseph Beuys and others. René Block’s exhibition “Für Augen und Ohren” (‘For Eyes and Ears’) at the Berlin Akademie der Künste established sound art permanently.
The „sonourous six week exhibition“ (SPIEGEL) was technically very complex. The same goes for the current exhibition KOMM at KIT: Artists of the Buetti class began their work by exploring the space. They asked universal questions such as: Who am I? Where do I live? What is happening in my direct and indirect living environment? Together with individual experiences, dreams and fantasies the results were incorporated in a sound composition accompanied by an artist book by Richard Helbin.*
The challenge of adapting the resulting sound piece to KIT’s special architectural environment was technically complex.
When entering KIT at the beginning of the 35 minute** long composition, the visitor hears a calm, male voice that invites him to hang out with him, to let go and to indulge in a new experience. The sound event has a length of two to three minutes.
Right behind the cashier a female voice appears: „Appear“, „Surface“ and „Announce yourself“. She introduces the visitor to the space. Her voice travels through the exhibition from start to end and back over the course of four minutes.
Two sounds request – what is our reaction to them? Do we feel threatened by them or indifferent to them? Does the space appear emptied of paintings or filled with voices?
Suddenly guitar sounds echo from the end of the tunnel. Sound jumps at us from a speaker. A Harmonica sounds from a speaker at the entrance area. With ever increasing force, it becomes louder and louder. Instruments embrace the room for 90 seconds. Bothering in their volume? A guitar string snaps.
Meanwhile a new sound forges towards us. A two minute mix of pop music fragments swells up and ebbs away. Segments become identifiable and fade to two new sound events. One accompanies the visitor jumping from speaker to speaker encouraging to “Come over here” over the course of four minutes until a voice concretely prompts to “Do this!”. Simultaneously a female voice near the entrance starts to tell a sad story. Meanwhile a voice starts to spread repeating the Sanskrit syllable “Om” from a speaker located in the middle of the exhibition. A sound used over millennia in order to bring harmony to mind, body and soul floods the exhibition while the singers’ breath is audible several times. Over the course of 6 minutes KIT transforms into a spiritual place.
After reaching a climax the chant stops abruptly and switches to a 40 second dialogue between a prostitute and her client. The original recording was made covertly. The quality is bad and conveys an impression of voyeuristic eavesdropping.
A sough sounds from the entrance and the dialogue ends. After a short break the sough fills KIT entirely. For two minutes the tone oscillates into the exhibition and out through the concrete walls until we hear the calls of a flock of reindeers.
Their sounds seem to be taken from a wildlife park or TV show on animals. That impression is stressed by a narrator’s voice emerging from the middle of the exhibition ending the scenario.
The mood is now dominated by the sounds of a crying little girl. How do we feel when we hear her sobbing?
The crying is followed by a dream report. 27 dreams spoken into a Dictaphone right after waking up are whispered from 27 loudspeakers. The whispering describes images and emotions that go through our minds every night. The dream whispers are accompanied by a choir of eight voices, scattered over eight loud speakers. The choir interrupts the whispers with “KOMM” chants and, after six minutes of whispers, it takes control of the room. End.
*The artist book is available to all visitors paying the full entrance fee of 4 €.
** runs in a loop
With the kind support of