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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich


Waltraut Cooper studied mathematics in Vienna and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and studied painting and graphics in Lisbon and Frankfurt. She is lecturer at Linz Art College.

"To me, the computer opens new ways, in art, in science, for the whole society on which it has unheard of consequences. The computer deals with tasks both trivial and difficult, tasks that partially could be done without, or else exclusively with the computer. It is the latter that fascinates me, for only there a potential is situated apt to open new ways, new perspectives, new opportunities. In this sense I use the computer in my works: without it, a sound could not be made to radiate ("Scherzophren"), a movement could not be made to sound ("Sound Mikado"), a word not be made both (Biennale Venice). Only the computer allows me to realize a global conception — in the "Digital Poetry" series — that includes the use of all artistic means of expression (visual, verbal, musical) and their direct transformation into one another. More specifically, the computer gives me the possibility — in Graz — to realize an old desire, to unite art and science in one work. This desire derives from an educational background including both of these spheres.

"Chronik" (music by Werner ]auk, electronics by R. Kellermann and H. Hörtner) is a work within which art and science create a close symbiosis, the computer transforming science into art shapes. "Chronik" is an interactive computer-controlled sound and light installation for Graz University, a large-scale future oriented project open for generations of students and teachers. It is a scientific chronicle connected to a general one. Important scripts by scientists that were active here, such as Johannes Kepler and Erwin Schrödinger, are stored in a computer. To these data are continuously added research results that are fed into the computer. The machine digitizes the data, and transforms them into light and sound plays. Thus language becomes music and visual event, thus scientific works are transformed into art." (Waltraut Cooper)

"The digital shape of the text, a chronicle of the Karl-Franzens-University Graz, is the structural basis for the sound work. Every written symbol (letter, digit or special symbols) is interpreted as an 8-bit byte by the computer. Status information about each bit are sent to 8 synthesizer modules as parallel signals and are the control pulses for the sound producers' activities. The selection of sounds, their character are determined by the probability of their activation: subdued sounds or noises, triggered by rather rare material, are the basis upon which high-pitched sounds "play" in the foreground, the latter being triggered by impulses encountered. This assignment is the only concession made to musical thinking and design.

Through these assignments the serial scanning of the text results in an 8 voice polyphonic sound texture representing one given sign as a characteristic sound pattern at any given moment. If these sound conglomerates remain constant over the period of performance — with the exception of willful interference relating to the sound representation of concrete contents (acoustical quotations...) — their character changes as their timbre is determined through random pitch variations of each sound. The bandwidth of these pitch changes is based on aspects of contents.

The sequence of dynamics and partially the speed of text digitalizatton are icon-like reflections of rhetorical relations of dynamics and of the (spoken) text rhythms. They are controlled by punctuation and represent an essay to transfer a component of emotional expression within the text on its acoustic realization.

The sound work is not to be understood as "music" existing by itself, but is in an inseparable context to the text and thus a sound transposition interactively corresponding to the visual transposition — an acoustic code of the text, a sign parallel to visual information." (Werner Jauk)