Ars Electronica 1991
Festival-Program 1991
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Festival 1979-2007



'Lydia Lunch Lydia Lunch / ' Z´EV Z´EV / 'Erik Hobijn Erik Hobijn

Blood is memory without language. The sins of the flesh are just a sacrifice to Venus. Passion plays itself out in the killing fields of false memory. All these secrets they just stain my recollections. Little by little the sun invades the sky's absence. Day breaks. Night falls. The sun slowly rises. Radiant dust falls in on the curtains of lost time. Light leeches out. Blood thickens. Muscles contract. I'm now in touch with the impossible. I'm obtaining the power of my existence to reach the opposite of existence. My death and I, we slip away into the wind outside my window, where I open myself to my absence. Day breaks. Night falls. No sun slowly rises. As I die, no sound breaks from my lips, for the cry I give is silence. Silence. Silence without end.

Since 1974, I have been building and performing with percussion instruments of my own design and execution. This work is a wedding of private art and craft and public performance, with the exploration of the sonic universe being the unifying concern. The instruments form sculptures which are arranged on a stage forming an architectural and theatrical tableau. They are "played" with both traditional instrumental techniques and non-traditional manipulations through movement. My aim is to educate western audiences to an understanding and acceptance of as wide a range of "musics" as possible, and beyond that to empower audiences to be not merely passive receptors of art and performance, but full participants in the creative process.

I. The relationship between the artist as private individual and public performer:

Western culture gives applause primary emphasis in the relationship between artist and audience; it is the only generally accepted way for an audience to participate in the energy of the performance: "a brief, chaotic noise in exchange for a long, well-organized one. However, since the volume and duration of this reaction often functions as a gauge to measure the commercial and even artistic value of a performance, the work presented in performance is most likely to be calculated to elicit this particular response. There are certain standard procedures employed by performers in "working an audience." What results is that an artist's public work comes to be about working the audience. What are the implications in this for a division between public and private work, and the relationship between artist and public?
What does "public" come to represent for the artist?

II . Culture is derived from cult, group, and cultivate, to grow or care for.
It is defined in Webster's dictionary as follows:

  1. Cultivation; tillage;

  2. The act of developing intellectual and moral faculties, especially by education;

  3. Expert care and training;

  4. Enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training;

  5. * A particular stage of advancement in civilization;
    * Characteristic features of such a state or stage;
    * Behavior typical of a group or class.
What would/could characterize an art culture? Applying the metaphor "tools of the trade", what would be the tools for such a culture?
Canetti, Crowds and Power

III. The didactic role of the artist:
The artist's role as educator, based on the premise that from experience comes understanding, and from understanding appreciation.

This is true, for example, in sound music is sound you like, noise is sound you don't like. However, this is purely subjective, and a sound originally heard as noise can come to be considered music as the listener first becomes accustomed to it and then comes to understand and appreciate it.

The artist presents new information, and more often than not the receiver of this information also gains with it new ways to process information. The role of the artist as creator of options: social implications.

IV. The empowering role of the artist: In this framework, the artist creates the sensory "field", but the individual audience member takes the initiative to form the field, by actively focusing on one or more elements and discerning/creating relationships between these elements and all others in the field – thus becoming a full partner in the creative process. This eliminates the artificial barrier between active/public artist and passive /anonymous audience.

This ties into Joseph Beuys' position that "everyone is an artist", a theory corroborated by ethno-methodologists and linguists.
This empowering then can radically alter their relation to their environment in general, long after they have left this specific situation.
It is the imparting of not only an isolated aesthetic experience but the basis for an ongoing relationship to the sound environment of everyday life. The ability to transcend a 'passive' acceptance of urban/suburban noise/sound, and replace it with an 'active' ability to organize /experience /appreciate such; as an/into an ongoing orchestral/symphonic continuum.
Pyromanical concept
Fire, being an "anti Material", seems an unappropriate means of creating art, its "performance" is short and aggressive. In Mysticism it is the bearer of the contact with "the Higher". The notion 'Fire' can be as such clouded with many wide-ranging meanings: the idolized fire, as a symbol of cleansing, renewal, the cycle of life, purification. Likewise, the pyromaniac projects a conflict in a seemingly irrelevant object, raising it to sacrificial a lamb and burns it.

In its sacrifice the aim is not receiving after giving, but here the aim is to destroy property, thus becoming part of 'the Sacred' oneself. Destruction is a second chance.
Fire acts as an exterminator, as a liberation of constipated structures, old frustrations and the like.

The act of self-immolation by fire (self-arson) is more of symbolic than of practical value.
The pyrokinetic objects I design always have some of the above named problems and values as a basic. In fact they are highly sophisticated offerings, which in my view are manic utensils and I define them as such.
5 Steel flame-throwers that combine scraps of texts with 13 meter high flames, an electronic synthesis of fire and language.

Publications by Prof. Dr. Coudsbloem laid the basis and were the source or inspiration for this object/ instrument. This scientist did much research on the domestication of fire and its revolutionary impact on development of social structures.
I go even further to say that this domestication led to a need for language and precision. That's why the "Dante Organ" consists of the most elementary forms of language and fire.
The instrument can be played like an organ; time and length of the flame are regulated by a computer. Every one of the five flamethrowers can be placed freely and has its own digital sampler with texts, sometimes only words, or even sounds that bear their own personal character. A flame-score regulates the composition in timing and intensity and actual texts. Phrases on the other hand can serve as a score, too. Fire and language, in the Dante Organ, undergo a techno-industrial metamorphosis. The performance of the organ is a very intense, concentrated act, during which heat and tension build up and collapse.
Cauterized memories of violence remain.
This object has been made during the Summer-Festival '88 and financed through Mickery Theatre and the Amsterdam Art's Fund. World premiere (without ext) Survival Research Laboratories Amsterdam 1988. Software and Hardware by Marc Marc.
The D.S.I. is a machine with controllable self-arson.Manual: In the middle of the machine is a revolving platform on which somebody can stand and hold two grips.

The person standing on the platform gets a jet of burning liquid out of a flamethrower on his back, then the platform turns halfway and the sacrifice human gets refreshed by the fire extinguisher with cold water; this can be repeated endlessly. The setting ablaze, the computer controlled swing and the extinction can be started both by the person standing on the platform and the computer.

The computer can be programmed to any burning program.
In D.S.I. the person, who looks self-immolation in the eye, challenging death, by reaching the closest thing thinkable is the aim and attraction, and of course stands central although the taboo on the subject is hard, there is more than enough space for interaction between public and self-immolator.

It is an extreme ritual happening in an industrial frame.
The D.S.I. is a cultivated utility tying psychological urges with the aesthetics of violence. The special thing is that it translates psychological mechanisms into mechanical self repeating ones. A robot that realizes thoughts, expectations, and emotions.

Here we have the forementioned tabu. Contrary to for example many theatrical performances, where by means of suggestion a feeling or experience is transmitted, in this utility every action is true and truly felt. The person standing in D.S.I. has complete control, an essential ingredient to the accumulation of tension.
This project is financed through 'Fonds voor beeldende kunsten vormgeving en bouwkunst' and produced by the Mickery Theater.
X/IX Ten/Nine
An international team of artists will harness the facilities of the steel factory VOEST-ALPINE to produce an event especially for "Out of Control".