{Haus „Johannes“ Büro- und Geschäftshaus, 69 Kepplerstrasse, Graz}

The work in the „Haus Johannes” was based on the experiences and results from the previous three building-sound compositions. On the ground floor a black and white photo exhibition documented impressions and details of the up to now recorded building. In the basement a listening station with headphones was installed and binaural tracks from the previous building-sound compositions could be heard. For further illustration of the results of the recent years, the 2nd floor of the building was used for a new building-sound composition. Groups from 12 people were led by elevator in and out of the space.

For extended discussion a public panel discussion with invited guests from cultural politics, architecture, music and media theory arranged, which dealt from different perspectives with the topic of The Chambers of Space Inquiries (Kanzlei fuer Raumbefragungen). Participants in the discussion were Justin Winkler (Universität Basel/Graz), Markus Pernthaler (Architekt), mit dem Lendlabor (Lisa Enzenhofer / Anna Resch), Elisabeth Fiedler (Institut für Kunst im öffentlichen Raum) und Gerriet K. Sharma (Kanzlei für Raumbefragungen).

Passers by do not perceive empty buildings after a short time any more, they disappear in the public perception (eye). In the totality of conscious urban space a gap arises, a non-place. Only when the scaffolding is already in place, or even the demolition machines are installed, the place returns to the „public“. Those gaps in perception, however, are approches (starting points) for the Arts, because here new ideas can be developed, other approaches can be pursued and basic, general questions, like individual and sound environment, marketing and space description, as well as economic interests and public cultural space can be combined and constructed in new ways. These non-places are chances.

The socio-political aspect of abandoned buildings plays an important role in this series of compositions. Of course, there have always been abandoned buildings, but their numbers have been increasing in the inner and outer areas of cities in recent years. It seems some pedestrian shopping areas would be proper ghost towns were it not for the ground floor shops located in the otherwise empty buildings. Real estate agents used to advertise the availability of their objects, whereas now, for-rent signs advertising commission-free rental adorn buildings right next to the many construction sites one now sees so frequently for new office complexes.

Keine Ahnung von Schwerkraft – Oblivious to Gravity searches for buildings which have been once economically and socially integrated in society (chancelleries, hospitals, department stores, hotels, offices) and which are formed because of their pasts by architectural esthetics, acoustical pecularities (reverberation, absorption properties, etc.) and formed by their own history. After a short time, the vacant buildings fade from public view, creating a gap. Only when it is torn down, the location moves into the consciousness again.

Gaps in perception are starting points for the arts, because here, fundamental questions posed to perception of environment appear: What kind of relationship do we have to the sound of our environment? Is there an acoustic image of the world? Which acoustic phenomena are hidden, which are overlaid by other listening impressions during perception? Etc.

The project keine Ahnung von Schwerkraft  – Oblivious to Gravity makes a temporary dedication to vacancy – to vacant buildings, which are deemed worthless in economic terms and isolated from their surroundings, just waiting to be ripped apart, yet rich in their own history, architectural value and atmosphere. These aspects come to life through this artistic initiation. The composition “on location” here becomes an artistic attempt of alternative, temporary use of vacancy. The one-sided and often pejorative way of looking at/hearing these empty places, sometimes considered ‘non-spaces’, in our neighborhoods can be altered through alternative interpretations.

Composition: Gerriet K. Sharma
Documentation: Nico Bergmann
Building research, project management: Astrid Mönnich

Premiere: November 26, 2013

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