installationposters, projection, speakers, tuner, photos, scores, MIDI-keyboard
Along Renaissance Bits puts two historical developments in relation to each other. On the one hand, the invention of equal temperament – the currently most widespread system of tuning, where the octave is divided into twelve identical tone steps, the twelve keys of the piano –, including the continuations of its logic of quantization within current digital audio production techniques like sampling. On the other hand, the transformations of those kinds of spatiality, that Fredric James describes in his essay Cognitive Mapping (1988) by reference to different epochs of capitalism. A constellation, that outlines a music-historical narrative of rasterization, commodification, colonialization and digitalization.
The installation consists of four parts. Two posters introduce the history and theory of the two developments. A MIDI-keyboard on a pile of scores for piano from around 1700 to 1949 serves as a visualization of history. In this context, the MIDI-keyboard symbolizes not only the electronic inventions from the 1940s onwards, that continued the logic of quantization, that is inherent to equal temperament but also marks the radicalized possibilities of simulation and imitation through sonic means in digital audio environments. Historically, equal temperaments success relied largely on its possibility of imitating and appropriating all other forms of musical systems, be they from the west or non-western tone systems. In digital audio environments, this possibility is much more extreme: the keys of the piano are not only able to imitate tone systems, but literally play back any sound being recorded in advance. A third part of Along Renaissance Bits is a rhythmically (on/off) projected world map onto a set of twelve keys, that are painted onto the wall of the gallery space. In the center of this world map is Huaiqing, a Chinese city, where Zhu Zaiyu, the inventor of the first exact method to calculate equal temperament lived. The last part of the installation is a recording of a chromatic scale, played on a Haegum, a traditional Korean string instrument. This recording, played back in a loop is fed into a small speaker as well as a tuner, that steadily measures the intonation of the instrument. Since the traditional playing technique and the design of the instrument are not based on a musical system of equal temperament, the intonation is always a bit off, being interpreted as an error by the tuner.
Haegum: Jeonghyeon Joo
1584 wurde die Musik verpixelt. Zhu Zaiyu, ein Prinz der chinesischen Ming-Dynastie entwickelte in seinem Leitfaden zu Musik und Tonhöhen als Erster eine Methode zur exakten Berechnung der gleichstufigen Stimmung, das System das die Oktave in zwölf identische Tonschritte unterteilt. Dieses, durch den jesuitischen Missionar Matteo Ricci auch in Europa bekannte quantisierte klangliche Feld erlaubte es sämtliche musikalischen Bezugssysteme zu simulieren, kolonialisieren und untereinander zu verknüpfen. Eine Logik der Rasterung, die die Entwicklung der europäischen Kunstmusik bis ins 20. Jahrhundert prägte und sich in radikalisierter Form auch in gegenwärtige Praktiken digitaler Musikkultur, insbesondere der Tonaufnahme und des Samplings einschreibt.
Through quantum leaps in the enlargement of capital, in the latter’s penetration and colonization of hitherto uncommodified areas, three historical stages of capital have each generated a space unique to it. Following a logic of the grid, the space of classical or market capitalism is one of infinite equivalence and extension, characterized by a reorganization of some older sacred and heterogeneous space in geometrical and Cartesian homogeneity. The next stage, the passage from market to monopoly capital is what Lenin called the “stage of imperialism“. Its space is defined by a growing contradiction between lived experience and a more properly structural model of the conditions of existence of that experience, whose truth no longer coincides with the place in which it takes place but is spread out across the globe. Our Mics are made in the US, our Shoes in Vietnam. Dominated by transnational corporations, the postmodern space of late capitalism involves the suppression of distance, relentlessly saturating any remaining voids and empty places and exposing the postmodern body – whether wandering through a postmodern hotel or locked into rock sound by means of headphones – to a perceptual barrage of immediacy from which all sheltering layers and intervening mediations have been removed.