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Images of the Week: Vertical Wire, After Lucier

The installation “Vertical Wire Music” is a new reinterpretation of Alvin Lucier‘s “Music on a Long Thin Wire” (1977). Last month marked the first anniversary of its October 18, 2008, debut at the Berlin University of the Arts (Universität der Künste Berlin). This version involves a 30-meter steel string suspended in a tall vertical staircase, as pictured here:

The work is a collaboration between artists Martin Backes, Christoph Illing, and Heidrun Schramm, all graduates of the school’s program in sound studies.

Lucier’s original score is in the form of instructional music — it isn’t a traditional score (i.e., notes on a page) but a rough sketch combined with detailed written instructions. Despite its simple title, the enactment of Lucier’s work is anything but. The piece also calls for magnets and an audio oscillator, and for the performer to adjust volume levels over the course of a given performance.

This version by Backes, Illing, and Schramm is not a performance, per se — it does not strictly abide to Lucier’s original. They have ingeniously adapted his work to exist as a constant presence — their reinterpretation, thus, shifts “Music on a Long Thin Wire” to a sculptural mode from a concert mode.

More on the installation, in German, at udk-berlin.de.

More on Schramm at myspace.com/sonatarec and virb.com/sonatarec. More on Illing at koolkiller.com. More on Backes, who took the photos and consented to their reproduction here, at myspace.com/martinbackes, aconica.de, and martinbackes.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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