July 06, 2006

Helmut Lemke at the Cornerhouse




I don’t often mention Galleries in Manchester, though I visit them frequently, mainly because most of the programmes in the city are so dismal that I find it difficult to raise the interest even to be critical. Helmut Lemke’s site specific installation Klangeln VIII at the Cornerhouse (www.cornerhouse.org) is a welcome relief. Originally from Germany, Helmut is a Research Fellow in Interactive Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University and is on Fellowship at the University of Salford. According to the exhibition hand-out:
“Lemke’s work customises everyday objects, making them surprising components within installations…his work has an important visual dimension, drawing attention to the environment it is constructed for….”
As you can see, thankfully this is not a sound work that requires the use of headphones. To continue using their description of the piece: “Klangeln VIII features oversized bows that play a number of strings criss-crossed above the heads of visitors. The Klangeln are set in motion by opening the books on the tables. Each book operates two different Klangeln, making it possible for visitors to act as composers and musicians.” The music is decidedly Stockhausen-esque but the world is sorrier place for the lack of Stockhausen regularly heard – (or maybe it was the way I composed) “Klangeln are intriguing instruments that have been used by Lemke in various installations and performances since 1998. A play on the German words for sound, klang, and fishing, Angeln, Klangeln are created from fishing rods manipulated to behave as string instruments.” As a city-dweller, I’m not sure that I would class fishing rods as “everyday objects”, but maybe books are. The work itself is remarkable, subtle and spatially spare. The minimal physical presence of the book tables/shelves and the camouflaged location of the sound-making apparatus amongst the brutal structures of the gallery ceiling magnify a plenary emptiness. Apparently making up the eleven dimensions (ten plus time) of the Universe is one, which if we could apprehend it, would appear to be an infinitely long strip only a couple of millimetres wide but with no measurable thickness. Your action in the sound creation (opening and closing the books) and the palpable thinness of Lemke’s generated sound dimension extend your perception with the addition/analogy of that other geometry to the four dimensions we otherwise mundanely experience

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Bournemouth Runner said...
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