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04  |   S C H R I T T E
Concept, with Eberhard Blum, for a “performance-installation,” 1981
21 x 29.7 cm
28 pages, xerography on paper, bound with solid-brass fasteners, ten handmade copies
Private collections and archives.


Eberhard Blum and I wanted to work together more directly than we had in the Boehm-Projekt : to collaborate on a more abstract plane where sound and image converge. We soon developed a concept for the visual-acoustic composition SCHRITTE ( “Steps” ), which, in accordance with the parlance of the late seventies and early eighties, we subtitled, as I shudder to recall, “A Performance-Installation.”

The visual part of the piece, for which I was responsible, was to comprise thirteen square, “white” panels, each collaged in the manner of READING BETWEEN THE LINES, and measuring 150 by 150 centimeters. A vertical line—initially, running up the first panel’s left-hand edge with its base-point in the lower left-hand corner—would appear to fall to the right in stages, and then, with its base-point now in the lower right-hand corner, rise again, until it had become the right-hand edge of the last panel.

At one and the same time, this line would be generated by and determine the surface structure created by upright and horizontal rows of white paper rectangles as follows : the surface of panel 1 would consist entirely of vertical rows, five centimeters wide ; on panel 2, similar but horizontal rows would begin to enter the picture plane from its left edge, meeting the vertical rows at an angle of 15 degrees ; the line thus defined would continue to progress across the surface area at a rate of 15 degrees per panel, before vanishing into the lower edge of panel 7, whose entire surface would then be covered with horizontal rows of paper rectangles ; in panel number 8, the line would reappear and—in the opposite direction now—seem to sweep across the remaining panels, which would be mirror images of the first seven, so that panel 13 would, like panel one, be covered entirely with upright rows of paper rectangles. At the time, this was my idea of high drama.

The thirteen panels were to form a long band that snaked around a fan-shaped enclosure, open on the broadest side, where Blum would sit upon a low platform and play into a microphone. The audience was to position itself—moving about at will, I guess—within the area created thus between him and the panels.

In the score, the notes of a chromatic scale are assigned to these thirteen 15-degree increments. In a performance of SCHRITTE, each of the thirteen notes was to be played by Blum on his flutes, recorded, and—overdubbed with itself using a tape-loop delay—positioned in space, according to its assignment to one of the panels, by means of a stereo loudspeaker-system. The sound thus produced was intended to constitute a vibrating field akin to the subtly scintillating surfaces of the panels, and in this manner, the visual was to enable the listener to orient himself, and the eye of the viewer to be guided by the ear. Each note was to be played and manipulated for five minutes, so that a passage through the score—and the time and space common to the sounds and images notated in it—would take precisely sixty-five minutes.  

I can’t recall for certain on just what material I intended to execute these large, white panels : surely not the foam core board—the panels were too large for one thing, and the material itself not stable, as we have seen—and I surely can’t, in conscience, have considered doing all that cutting and pasting if the work were doomed to end up as so many stretched canvases twisted out of shape. But then again, maybe I felt I might just chance it, since the panels were to be attached to a supporting structure … (And, to thicken the plot all the more, I’m pretty sure the very first plan for SCHRITTE actually involved designs for thirteen three-meter-tall rectangular panels )

I just don’t know ; and the point is, after all, a moot one, for SCHRITTE was never realized. Shortly after its conception, I discovered the indisputable charms of working on wooden blockboard, which—as far as my collages were concerned—solved most of my problems, making it possible for Blum and me to plan and realize the visual-acoustic composition PHASEN, which saw the light of day and, indeed, the footlights as well, in 1984.