After working in the theatrical situation of the proscenium stage for a number of years, Dreyblatt became interested in presenting the living environment in which historical data is stored and archived. In order to make this process transparent, he wanted the public to be involved in a more active sense, and he gradually developed a model for performance and installation which has been presented in various European cities under the titles "Memory Arena" (1995), "The Memory Project" (1996) and "The Reading Room"(2001).
The basic concept of these site and city-specific larger-format projects involved the invitation of several hundred inhabitants of a city who are then invited to take part in a functioning yet temporary archival installation system. Selections from the archival holdings are read out loud collectively according to a precise timeplan or score. The inhabitants from the contemporary cityscape reflect hundreds of forgotten individuals from the past by their presence and participation.
The Reading Projects were realized in various spatial and temporal contexts, often lasting for four to five hours, over many days or weeks at a time. Dreyblatt continually experimented and modified the forms of presentation, yet the basic elements have remained in subsequent varying formats: A Burocracy which administers the network of travelling archival files, readers, and visitors; a functioning archive system containing historical and contemporary documents; and a reading space or communal area in which the actual reading takes place.
Since 2001 when the last of the large-format Reading Projects was realized at the Bienale Bern, Dreyblatt been developing other formats for presentation within a museum and gallery context. The most recent of these: "Performing the Black Mountain Archive", was realized in the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2015.
Arnold Dreyblatt's "PERFORMING the Black Mountain ARCHIVE" was an artistic research project which ran parallel to the exhibition "Black Mountain. An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933 - 1957", curated by Dr. Eugen Blume and Dr. Gabriele Knapstein at the the Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin. The diversity of activities and personalities at Black Mountain provide a fertile reservoir for the development of individual and group projects, both for public performances and for artistic research in the 'Black Mountain Archive' installed by Dreyblatt.
"PERFORMING the Black Mountain ARCHIVE" comprised an on-site artistic residency which incorporated the daily live performance of archival material as readings, concerts and performances within a pre-planned time structure at pre-determined locations for the four-month duration of the exhibition. In "Performing the Black Mountain Archive" eleven art academies participated for a one to two-week period during which students were in residence within an Archive / Studio space. In reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of education at Black Mountain, students from sculpture, painting, media art, sound art, music, dance, theater and literature were invited.
The Archive / Studio functioned as the home station for the project, containing a working area for the students and the site of the Archive itself. Within the Studio area, students were visibly present during opening hours, pursuing artistic work and research. The students had access to the entire archive contents, which included not only the material used in the performances, but all archival documents which have been collected by the Arnold Dreyblatt over the last years. The live event periods took place from 11:00-13:00 and 15:00-17:00.
Resident students were involved in their own artistic research in the Archive / Studio Space when not actively performing and were encouraged to be present on-site during museum opening times. As event moments occur according the score, students would take the pre-selected archive files (or other materials) and proceed to the pre-selected event area shortly before the active event moment. During the pre-determined time bracket, the student reads / performs / or otherwise carries out the planned activity for the duration, and, upon completion proceeds back to the Archive / Studio Space when he or she returns the materials to the archive. The performative periods are indicated yet the specific times and locations of events are not specified. This ensures that the public discovers the live performances only as they navigate the exhibition.
The Project, "PERFORMING the Black Mountain ARCHIVE" was realized by students from the following educational institutions:
Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel (Fine Arts/Media Art): Arnold Dreyblatt & (Communication Design/Typography): André Heers und Annette le Fort
Hochschule für bildende Künste Dresden (Fine Arts): Monika Brandmauer
Hochschule für bildende Künste Dresden (Fine Arts): Ulrike Grossarth
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (North American Studies Program / German Studies): Sabine Sielke, Thomas Fechner-Smarsly
Versatorium, Institut für Komparatistik der Universität Wien
Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz Berlin (Dance, Context, Choreography): Florian Feigel
Universität der Künste, Berlin (Sound Studies): Hans Peter Kuhn
Hochschule der Künste Bern (Master of Arts in Contemporary Arts Practice & Master of Arts Théâtre musical): Andi Schoon, Valerian Maly
Norwegian Theatre Academy Høgskolen i Ostfold Fredrikstad (Theater/Performance): Maria Schwaegermann
Kunstakademiet i Oslo (Fine Arts): Dag Erik Elgin
Institutionen för Konst, Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm (Fine Arts): Thomas Elovsson.
Project Coordination: Anna Schapiro
a collaborative performance by media artist and composer Arnold Dreyblatt; Dr. Maiya Geddes (Postdoctoral Fellow, McGovern Institute, MIT) and Anna Kohler with participating students from Theater Arts MIT
Presented as part of the Conference: "INFINITE RECORD: Archive, Memory, Performance", November 14 - 15, 2014, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A reading-performance echoing the neuroscience of brain connectivity: two opposing networks, each composed of two nodes or voices, ﬂuctuate in time to produce a correlated and anti-correlated chorus. Representative literary texts reﬂecting the function of each node are selected as content material. The reading performers follow a digital score, directing the cyclical appearances of fragmentary thought (reminiscent of the reciprocal peaks and nadirs of temporal information) to ﬂow from the default mode and salience brain networks.
Network 1: The Salience Network, External Focus
Salience Voice/Node 1: "Far from the Maddening Crowd", Thomas Hardy; "Mrs. Dalloway", Virginia Woolf.
Visceral Arousal Voice/Node 2: "The red room scene", "Jane Eyre", Charlotte Bronte; Molly Bloom’s monologue, "Ulysses", James Joyce.
Network 2: The Default Mode Network, Internal Focus
Self-Referential Voice/Node 3: The monster’s soliloquy, "Frankenstein", Mary Shelley.
Episodic Memory: Voice/Node 4: "Swann’s Way", Marcel Proust; "Confessions", St. Augustine.
"Advances in functional neuroimaging enable us to examine the human brain at rest. In a state of wakeful rest, signals from groups of brain regions ﬂuctuate together over time. These signals are persistent under anesthesia and undergo predictable changes throughout development, aging, and disease. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs fMRI) allows us to listen to the whisperings of individual brain networks: what begins as a cacophony of voices is parsed into multiple melodies that are sung in concert within each functional brain network. Our brain is comprised of multiple independent networks, each per-forming a speciﬁc cognitive function. Networks are further composed of multiple brain regions or nodes. Here we have represented each node as a voice in a carefully timed chorus.
The brain’s duality is reﬂected by our ability to shift focus between our outer and inner worlds. We highlight two competing brain networks, the default mode and salience network: as one network ebbs in time, the other ﬂows. An interconnected group of brain regions termed the ‘default mode network’ or DMN is most active when we disengage from speciﬁc tasks and focus inwardly. This suite of regions comes on-line while we are resting and during states of introspection, memory retrieval, and mind wandering. The DMN can be split into dissociable nodes, each of which performs unique memory-related or self-referential functions. Reciprocal to the DMN, the salience network shifts our focus to the external world. The salience network processes the emotional and visceral impacts of incoming sensory information. This network underlies our ability to detect changes in our environment and instigates autonomic arousal." - Dr. Maiya Geddes
Texts selected from the writings of Sigmund Freud
Production in collaboration with the International Psychoanalytic Congress, Berlin; Sigmund-Freud- Stiftung, Akademie der Stattlichen Museen, Berlin, Karl Abraham Institut, Berlin
The reading was concieved for the large central hall of the Painting Gallery (Gemäldegalerie) in Berlin. Dreyblatt collaborated with candidates of the Karl Abraham Institut in selecting texts in German and English by Sigmund Freud and in the organization and in the participation in the event. Twelve reading tables were set up around a permanently installed installation by Walter de Maria. The reading had a 40 minute duration, and the readers were instructed to begin reading the next text on the table when the reading light was turned on and off according to a pre-determined score by members of the Institute.
Götz Fellhauer, International Psychoanalytical Studies Organization; Ludwig Haesler, Lehranalytiker; Udo Hock, Psychoanalytiker; Eva Humpert, Psychoanalytikerin; Stefanie Sedlacek, Psychoanalytikerin; Christina Klaus-Asmus, Psychoanalytikerin; Armin Pollmann, Lehranalytiker; Eva Lange, ehem. Sekretärin, BPI; Ingeborg Schneider-Hänisch, Psychoanalytikerin; Sabine Scholz, Geschäftsstelle DPV; Cornelia Wagner, Vorstand DPG; Marie-Luise Waldhausen, Leiterin der Ambulanz BPI
Cologne Fine Art Messe
Co-Production Neuen Aachener Kunstvereins (Aachen), Marres - Center for Contemporary Culture (Maastricht, Niederlande), Espace 251 Nord (Liège, Belgien) und Z33 (Hasselt, Belgien).
Texts: John Cage, James Joyce, After Cage Network
Organization: Claudia Banz
At the occasion of a presentation by the pan-regional project "After Cage Network" Dreyblatt presented a 10 minute reading of texts by John Cage and James Joyce derived and related to Cage's "Holly Rollyover". Twelve artists took part. Each recieved texts in which specific words and phrases were underlined. They were instructed to read the entire text to one's selve, and to read out loud only the words and phrases which were marked.
Gelbe Music, Berlin on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition: Arnold Dreyblatt, "Working Papers".
Texts: Ursula Block
Readers: David Moss, Hans Peter Kuhn, Akio Suzuki, Ute Wasserman, Inge Mahn
Jewish Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Jewish Museum Branch, Archeaological Site, Judengasse
Texts: : Database of the Deported Jews of Frankfurt am Main From the Archives Research and Organization in collaboration with Erik Riedel.
The Reading Performance "Inscriptions" was created for the solo exhibition by Arnold Dreyblatt at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. Twelve reading positions were set up at the archeological site at the Museum branch at the former "Judengasse". Twelve prominent readers were selected from Frankfurt intellectual life to read simultaneously from texts selected by the artist together with Erik Riedel from the Museum from a biographical database of the deported Frankfurt Jewish Community.
Conceived for the opening reception of the solo exhibition From the Archives, Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken, Saarbrücken
Texts from: Gertrude Stein, Sigmund Freud, Bundesarchiv Bern, Archiv für Zeitgeschichte, Zürich
Writing Performance and Installation
Realization as part of the project "Feuerwerk" by Inge Mahn
Watertower (Wasserspeicher), Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Materials: Hanging paper rolls, Ladders, Markers, Lighting, Sound Environment
Sound: multi-channel sine wave composition in collaboration with Jörg Hiller
Performers: Students and former students of the Art Academy of Berlin-Weißensee (Class of Prof. Inge Mahn)
Content: Texts on "fire".
12 enormous paper rolls are hung in a circle of brick arches in the cellar of the Water Tower in Berlin. At the beginning of the performance, twelve persons are stationed at each roll, and begin to write in large black letters from texts which they hold in their hands. As the surface of the paper is filled, the rolls are pulled downwards, until the floor is gradually covered with crumpled sheets of written paper. The resulting installation remained for the length of the exhibition.
Performance Installation, Biennale Bern
A ten-day interactive performance - installation in which 348 Berner citizens took part at the Kornhaus in the center of Bern. The work functioned as a central portal for the Bern Biennale as well as the setting for daily 'live' reading events, an audio-visual installation environment, and selected festival activities. Public Reading Events took place three times daily for thirty minutes.
As source material, texts on the history of minority and immigrant presence in Switzerland which had been researched and collected especially for the project from archives in Switzerland were contrasted with material from the Reading Projects. Groups and organizations from the Bern region were selected and registered for participation in the daily public readings. Each day represented a differing textual theme and source. The installation staff coordinated the registration and arrival of the pre-invited readers.
Text Material: Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv, Archiv für Zeitgeschichte, ETH Zürich, Adolf Wölfli, Research Project: Albrecht von Haller, etc.
Design, Technical Direction: Luca Ruzza
Data Projection, Database: Alexandr Krestovskij
Produced by Martin Tröendle, Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Freie Akademie, Bern
A Performance in "Anatomic Theater" from Inge Mahn, Charité University Hospital in collaboration with Jan Faktor
A performance with readings and projections within and in response to exhibition from Inge Mahn, Virchow Lecture Hall Ruin, Charité University Hospital, Berlin. Texts from: H. H. Voigt, Abriss der Astronomie, Zürich 1975; ungesund, Jan Faktor, Berlin 1995; Augendiagnose und Kurpfuschertum, Dr. S. Seligmann, Berlin 1910.
Participants: Medical Students and Professors of the University Clinic and Students of the Art Academy of Berlin-Weißensee
Performance Installation, Felix Meritis Foundation, Amsterdam
With support from the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation Amsterdam
An Installation in the Felix Meritis Foundation, Amsterdam, November 8-29, 1998
"The Memory Project" linked electronic media with history and art. The visitor encounters a microcosm of information, presented in contrasting mediums and with interacting content within a precise ritualistic time frame without beginning or end. Fragments of historical and contemporary biographical data were framed within a discussion on the nature of archiving and collection: what do we search for in the past; how do we find it; what do we want to keep from it; and how are these fragments from the past related to us today. The processes and multiple pathways of information storage, whether in the form of a library, archive, or museum; as well as in the digital form of a database network, were made transparent to the public. By participating in and interacting within this information and retrieval storage network, the visitor experienced a confrontation with the forms in which the keys to our identity and memory are stored outside ourselves by institutions and hired professionals.
Presented as a three-week installation, in which digital data from The Reading Projects were displayed and presented alongside incoming biographical data from Amsterdam; and an Event Mode, in which the installation comes to life through the intervention of live readings of historical material. A staff maintained the installation with 18 persons during the performances. 550 invited personalities from Amsterdam participated in readings in which one to nine persons might be reading outloud at any given time. The setting consisted of a large central monumental structure supporting four black transparent projection screens and containing the archival storage area, surrounded by reading areas and additional digital display surfaces.
The Installation took place in two modes: an "Installation Mode", in which digital data from Arnold Dreyblatt's databases are displayed and presented alongside incoming data from the growing "People Network" in Amsterdam; and an "Event Mode", in which the installation comes to life through the intervention of live readings of historical material from "Who's Who in Central & East Europe1933 " on particular days. The "Memory Project Staff" maintained the "installation mode" with 7 persons, growing to 18 persons during the "Event mode".
The Reception Area
Under the central stairwell of the historic Felix Meritis Foundation was placed the Reception Area where the public was informed about upcoming events on a rear projection screen, and Memory Staff Personnel register and informed invited readers and general public. During "Event Mode", the Reception Area was part of the data network which is connected to the Memory Hall Registration Desk upstairs.
The User Terminals
As the guest ascended the stairway he or she found three computers with keyboards, that could be directly accessed by the public. Each computer displayed one of three different data base informations:
a. "Reading Texts" (files) from "Who's Who in Eastern and Central Europe 1933"
b. "Schedule" which shows "who-reads-which-text-at-which time."
c. "People Network" whose data is derived from questionnaires which have been filled out by the Readers either in paper form or directly into this computer. These three computers are connected to the computer network, and one can search specific information from the databases.
The Memory Hall
The core of the installation took place in the historic Library of Felix Meritis, re-named "The Memory Hall" during the installation period. The Memory Hall consisted of a large central monumental structure which was constructed by a black platform foundation, supporting 4 black transparent screens. This large rectangular structure represents the digital "Brain" of the installation, containing 15 computers and the central server of the computer network as well as forming the large rear display panels which forms a central focus to the hall.
During the Installation Mode, these panels dynamically and continually display live searches through the "Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933" databases. The panels are constructed of a black plexiglass material, so that the projected scrolling texts float suspended in space. On three sides of the so-called "Brain", were nine flat-laying Plasma Data Displays. Here were shown animated texts chosen from "Who's Who", statements on Memory and the nature of Archiving, biographical fragments from the accumulating Amsterdam People Network, as well as "peeks" at Dreyblatt's new "T-Mail" Communication Database which will form a major part of the project in 1999. These texts were decomposed and transformed into one another continually during the opening hours, posing a counterpoint to the large rear projection walls above. The Memory Hall was illuminated by a diffuse blue dark light that will reflect on the black PVC floor. During Installation Mode, Guided Tours to the interior of the brain were held at appointed times that were announced beforehand.
During Event Mode the nine Plasma Displays became"Reading Tables", where, on eleven specified days the hundreds of invited personalities from Amsterdam and the thousands of preselected biographical and historical files meet for live readings of "Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933". Each reading had a differing thematic reference and the texts were read aloud in a choreographed polyphonic chorus according the "Events Schedule" for that particular evening. One to nine persons were reading at any one time.
During a reading, the name, profession and the corresponding file text content scrolls in a data projection above the head of each reader as he reads his or her text. The nine reading tables illuminate with white light the clear transparent file-texts as well as the reader him or her-self.
The "Brain" supported additional important locations and services during Event Mode. The outside rim of the Brain is the "Great Archive", where all the reading texts are stored, maintained and accessed. Here fragments of individual memory remnants which are physically located in archival storage are "brought out into the open" within the vocalized collective forum.
The public was able to choose between experiencing the "collective space" of simultaneous readings or moving in closer to hear the "individual" reawakening of specific texts, creating their own "stories" and "interpretations" while simultaneously reading the scrolling texts on the walls of the central structure.
The Memory Hall Personnel coordinated the event among the readers, the public and the hierarchical staff of archivists and bureaucrats, making sure that that each individual (invited reader and visitor) and each archive file is at the correct place at the correct time and that the "Events Schedule" is followed.
During Event Mode, the Archive Director sat behind the Memory Hall Registration Desk. The Archive Director was responsible for all the organization of the reading files and the coordination of the archivists who service the readers with files from the Archive. The On-Site Reading Registration Advisor assigns reading positions to the public on site. These two members of the Staff are assisted by a third person in direct digital contact with the main Reception Area under the main stairwell. Additional Staff Personnel guide the Public and Invited Readers to their appointed locations within the installation.
Texts: Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933
Design, Technical Direction: Luca Ruzza
Data Projection, Database: Alexandr Krestovskij
Produced by: Toni Cots
Kampnagel, Hamburg; 1995
Marstall, Munich; 1995
Arken Museum, Cultural Capital of Europe, Copenhagen; 1996
A Performance-Installation in which hundreds of readers, both invited and voluntary participate in a reading from the text of "Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933" text within a very precise temporal and visual environment. Crowds are processed by bureaucrats through a labyrinth-like transit station, passing through numerous passageways, waiting and administration areas, and then to thematically related exhibitions. The focal point is the "Archive", from which files are checked out and transported to the "Arena" where they are read aloud in a polyphonic choreography.
Texts: Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933
Production Direction, Design and Light: Fred Pommerehn
Data Projection: Alexandr Krestovskij
Database Programming: Jost Muxfeldt
Project Description 1995:
A three day interactive performance-installation utilizing the text materials assembled for the performance Opera "Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933" within a completely new context. Memory Arena has been designed expressely as a “site-specific” installation of long duration.
Memory Arena guides us through a non-linear narrative of individuals and places, travels, migrations, wars, revolutions, and competing minority groups, world powers and philosophies. The events and ideologies of this period, abruptly brought to an end by the events leading to up to the Second World War; are uniquely contemporary in the post-cold war “new world order” of Central and East Europe.
The journey evokes the atmosphere of a lost yet relevant era, told through the accumulation and interaction of biographical details in a “cut-up” hypertext archive of collective and personal memory. The public participates in a "navigation" within the book in a continually transforming multi-layered text and light environment.
Memory Arena is a Performance-Installation in which the public participates by stepping into the great archive and the infinite data bank. Hundreds of readers, both invited and voluntary participate in a reading from the Who's Who text within a very precise temporal and visual environment. Crowds are processed through a labyrinth-like transit station, and can spend their time in a number of different spaces with varying functions.
The Main Hall or "Arena" consists of a three tiered platform that covers three sides of the space leaving the central area or rotunda for the viewer. The viewer, who has entered through a tunnel-like hallway (which connects the Check-in area and the Arena) is surrounded on three sides by the event. The Viewer is able to choose between seeing the entire space or moving in closer to observe specific occurences.
Each of the three levels of the platform (the Lower or Inner level for the readers, the middle level for the Scribes, and the upper or outer most level for the archivist) contains twelve stations. A combination of one reader station, one scribe station and one archivist station make up one Reading Block. Hence the viewer is surrounded by a beehive of activity taking place in 12 three-tiered reading blocks.
Access to all levels is through the centrally located reader recall station. It is here that the Head Administrator and his or her staff of Runners coordinate all Arena personel with the several hundred readers; making sure that each individual is in the correct place at the right time and that the events protocol is followed meticulously.
An ongoing public reading from Who’s Who in Central & East Europe 1933 represents the focal point of "Memory Arena". Artists, Writers, Politicians, Intellectuals, Foreign Residents, etc. from the performance locality, well-known and unknown; will be invited to read for a limited period of time within a fixed time structure. From one to twelve “invited guests” and "applicants from the public" read simultaneously in German and foreign languages. In reflecting the past in the present, a politician might be given a text to read which concerns revolutionary figures in the Austro-Hungarian empire; a theater critic may be given a list of theater pieces or newspapers from Central and East Europe between the wars, a worker at the zoo might read a text about a director of a zoological institute, and so on.
All invited readers are given full written instructions as to what is expected of them: how long and when they will read, Check-In time, etc. The Waiting Area staff is prepared for the Readers as they appear, and the RunnerS prepare the text files according to the protocol, and escort The Readers through the Arena to their positions. Members of the public can apply to read in the Check-In Area and are called up by the public announcement system (RECALL) as needed. Each reading station consists of a table, a chair and a lamp which goes on and off when the reader should start and stop reading.
Twelve scribes wait for their reading blocks to be activated. When a reader assigned to that reading block begins to read, the scribe (hearing the text simultaneously through stereo headphones) types the spoken text as it is read onto a computer keyboard at their station. This data is gathered into centralized computer servers and projected simultaneously onto the data wall (a projection screen situated above and behind the reader recall station and spanning the entire width of the area. Each scribe station consists of a table and chair, and a computer keyboard and monitor.
Each reading block is under the control of an archivist. The archivists follow the main protocol, signal their readers and scribes as to when to stop and start by turning on and off signal lights hung above each station, keep general order in their block and report difficulties to the head administrator. The archivist is responsible for coordinating the files which contain the text or text fragments which have been pre-chosen for each reader. Each archiving station consists of a table, a lamp, and one chair each for incoming and outgoing readers, and a chair for the archivist. All aspects of the installation are synchronized to a MASTER PROTOCOL, which functions as a score (partitur) for all events. All RunnerS, performers and other technical personell follow the same PROTOCOL, in Memory Arena time.
The only interruptions to the protocol allowed are the Musical Incisions. The Musical Incisions consist of three to five minute performances by Dreyblatt's ensemble, The Orchestra of Excited Strings, who are located behind the Data Wall. At the start of these breaks (signaled by a loud bell) all other activities of Memory Arena stop and remain inactive until the conclusion of the Incision (signaled again by a loud bell). At this point all activities continue at the same point at which they stoped. Memory Arena time is also suspended during the Musical Incision. The Orchestra is seen only during the break when lighting enables the viewer to see them through the data wall. During the Musical Incisions animated computer text fragments are projected on the Data Wall. The intrusions into the Memory Arena are scheduled on an average of 5 to 6 breaks every 4 hours.
Everything and everyone involved or visiting the Memory Arena is processed through the Check-In Hall. A burocratic labyrinth made up of a maze of passageways in which personel, at 10 to 15 stations, take tickets, issue instructions, keep and distribute records, inform other personel, and direct the visitors and guests through a people processing transit hall. Located in the Check-In Hall is also the Control Central, where all functions of the Memory Arena are administered including Video Projection, Lighting, Sound, etc. Control Central is also the operational base of the head administrator, who oversees all staff members and is who ultimately is in charge of the entire mechanism of the Memory Arena Complex. The Check-In Installation is not only an observation of the processing and recording of identity and memory in a burocratic society, it and its staff also serve to eliminate any disturbances and to insure that the Memory Arena Portocol is executed perfectly.
Because Memory Arena is designed to be an event of long duration, several smaller locations and activities have been added giving the visitor the oppurtunity to exit and continually re-enter the Arena performance at different stages in its development.
Live Hypermedia Navigator
A live “Hypertext Navigator” cuts possible paths through the computer data base of “Who’s Who in Central & East Europe 1933”. Thousands of fragments of individual lifelines are accessed, reconstructed and linked in a live "navigational reading” through this labyrinth of information, following various threads and cross-references that emerge out of deliberate or spontaneous associations.
Other Areas: Cafe & Reading Room; Bookstore; Personal Information Collection Center, etc. Access to and from the Arena, the outside world, the cafe and the exhibition (and all other locations) is always throught the Check-In maze." - 1995
Multimedia Performance, Zeiss Großplanetarium, Berlin
In collaboration with writer Jan Faktor
Light beam projection: Folke Hanfeld
Speakers: Brigitte Berthet, Jan Faktor, Werner Hennrich, Brigitte Romano, Davron Rumetovich Gaipov, Sergei Gladkich, Kazim Keskin
Music composition performed by The Orchestra of Excited Strings, composed by Arnold Dreyblatt
Texts: "Geschichte der Himmelskunde von der Ältsten auf Neueste Zeit", J. H. Mädler, Weimar 1839; H. H. Voigt, "Abriss der Astronomie", Zürich 1975; "Catalogs of Ptolemy and Ulugh Begh", London 1907; "Prolegomenes des Tables Astronomiques D'Ouloug Beg", M. Sedillot, Paris, 1853; "The Star Atlas, V. P. Shcheglov", Fan Publishing House, Tashkent, 1978
Commissioned by Ars Electronica, Linz
480 reprocessed still frames selected from private home movies; digital programmable dissolve projection system with high contrast black and white Images.
Music Composition: Magnetically amplified steel wires in conjunction with dynamic processor gating system.
Digital Projection System: Het Apollohuis, Eindhoven.
Hypertext Multimedia Opera
WHO'S WHO IN CENTRAL & EAST EUROPE 1933 is a contemporary performance of collective and personal memory; based on a book containing over 10,000 biographies of individuals who were considered important at the time. The production was realized in 1991 as a commission from Inventionen '91, Berlin and the DAAD program; and later at the Gasteig, München; Secession Wien, (Wiener Fest Wochen); in Kulturpalast Dresden; in 1994 at the Berlin Festival in Prague (in Czech Language); in 1995 at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg and the Goethe Institute Budapest (in Hungarian Language); and in 1997 at the Zurich Theater Spektakel, Stadtheater Ludwigshaven, and at Festspielhaus Hellerau-Dresden.
Winner of the Philip Morris Art Prize in 1992.
Materials: Computer synchronized slide projection system, eight channel sound environment, 16 mm film projection, Size of Production Team: 18 persons
Performers: three speakers of texts, composition performed by The Orchestra of Excited Strings; Vocalist: Shelley Hirsch
"Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933" is a Biographical Dictionary containing about 10,000 authentic biographies of ecclesiastics, diplomats, civil servants, technicians, educators, military personnel, industrialists, journalists, painters, sculptors, authors, etc., from Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia , Danzig, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia..." In 1985, Arnold Dreyblatt found a copy of "Who's Who in Central & East Europe" in a used book store near the Galanta Tower in Istanbul. It was published in 1935 (current through 1934) in the English language along with an accompanying volume entitled, "Handbook of Central & East Europe".. A revised version (1935-36) with an additional one hundred biographies was published in 1937. These editions were the first and last biographical dictionaries to be published concerning this region exclusively until “Who's Who in the Socialist Countries of Europe" was published in 1989.
With a commission from the DAAD in Berlin in 1990; the 10,000 individual biographies were sorted and 765 were selected for further work. The selection process concentrated largely on the forgotten lives and the "no longer famous" representing the interrelationship of individual and collective identity, memory and fate. After selection, this mountain of information was entered into a computer data bank reflecting the traditional use of a computer in the administration of personal data. This data bank of "collective memory" is the corner stone on which many of the projects are built. Through the use of a hypertext program one can cut through this canonic or "given" text (a closed text to which nothing may be added) selecting text fragments, de- and reconstructing them in a simulation of a "guided tour" through chosen paths in an architecture of biographical information (putting together) as if a puzzle of thousands of individual stories, and revealing an image of a vanished world , captured at a critical point in time, which only a few years later would all but cease to exit.
he production was set in a Procenium Arch, in which a series of scrim material walls divide the stage space laterally into several light zones. Private (amateur) photographs and films, and documentary sound materials (language and music) representing the regions and the time period have been selected from archives and personal collections. Light and shadow integrate the performers within the projections. An opera libretto composed of textual historical fragments was sung and spoken by the performers.
"Thousands of these biographical fragments were selected and stored in a computer data base and are later recalled, reconstructed and reinterpreted in a live "navigation" through the original text material. This "guided tour" reveals temporal and spatial themes: names, dates, ancestors, place names, histories, migrations, etc. which form a structure through which the piece evolves. An ensemble of 6 instrumentalists, a singer, and 3 vocalists perform in a composition under the direction of the composer. Sung and spoken fragments of personal histories that have been selected from the "sea" of biographical material. Private (amateur) photographs and films, and documentary sound materials (language and music) representing the regions and the time period have been selected from archives and personal collections. The reconstructed images and fragments of computer text are projected in a live performance composition by Etta von Cramer. Light and shadow integrate the performers within the projections. The sound environment of documentary recordings, by Hans Peter Kuhn, emanate from point sources surrounding the audience in contrast to the music, text, and images originating from the procenium stage."
Who's Who Website (Produced at the University of Lüneburg) >>>
The performers include vocalist Shelley Hirsch, three speakers of texts, and the six musicians of the Orchestra of Excited Strings.
Texts: Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933
Images: Horus Archive, Private Film Archive, Budapest
Image Composition: Etta Von Cramer
Sound Material: German Radio Archive
Sound Composition by Hans Peter Kuhn
Stage and Light Design, Co-Direction: Fred Pommerehn
Hypertext: Heiko Idensen
Inventionen '91, Kino Babylon, 1991
Wiener Fest Wochen, Vienna, 1991
Kulturpalast, Dresden (Production: Philip Morris), 1991
Gasteig, München (Production: Philip Morris), 1991
Berlin Hier und Jetzt Festival (Dnes a Tady), in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, Prague, 1994
Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg, 1995
Petrofi Czarnok, Budapest, in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, Prague, 1995
Theater Spektakel, Zurich, 1997
Festspielhaus Hellerau-Dresden, 1997
Theater im Pfalzbau, Ludwigshafen/Rhein, 1997
Sound and ilm Installation Performance in collaboration with Penelope Wehrli
Sound: Yiddish Learning Text superimposed on recordings of long strings with magnetic string drivers. Film by Penelope Wehrli
Installed in a tunnel under the Siegsaule (Victory Column) in West Berlin, as part of "Berlin/New York" project organized by the Berlin Kunsthalle. Videoartist David Blair functioned as a guard. 15 visitors were allowed entry at a time. The Performance was part of a Berlin/New York exchange project sponsored by the Berlin Government.