The Roedelius Cells
An Audio Installation by Tim Story
Piano by Hans-Joachim Roedelius
“Extraordinary… a highly-successful celebration of the work of two internationally-recognized artists... Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the installation was the high number of visitors who stayed throughout the entire duration of the hour-long audio cycle, often remaining well into the next before pulling themselves away from this immersive and deeply satisfying visitor experience.”
(Scott Boberg, Manager of Programs/Toledo Museum of Art)
Invitation to Exhibit in 2018/2019
We are excited to offer The Roedelius Cells to interested museums, galleries, festivals and performance spaces for dates in 2018 and 2019. The program enjoyed its European premiere at the Kunstverein Baden near Vienna, Austria in 2016, and its American premiere in 2017 at the award-winning Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio. The installation is fully scalable - from small intimate spaces designed for a few people at a time, to much larger venues with the ability to host many more listeners and a larger physical soundstage to explore. (The 9-day TMA exhibition occupied a lovely circular 60-ft diameter all-glass room.) The hour-long program is powered by our compact, custom-configured ssd/cpu/interface which is designed to boot, play, and loop indefinitely with the touch of a button. In a typical application, we would provide this playback technology, and the venue, in consultation with the artists, would typically provide the monitors and stands. Technical and staff demands are minimal, making the Cells suitable for short- or long-term exhibition in a variety of settings. Exhibitions may also be augmented with presentations, workshops, educational programs and/or residencies with the artists. For more information, please contact Tim Story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Roedelius Cells is a multichannel audio installation, created by Grammy-nominated composer Tim Story, and featuring original piano recordings by Hans-Joachim Roedelius. The program is an unconventional cycle of pre-recorded pieces, constructed by Story from thousands of short extracts of Roedelius’ piano recordings, and reproduced via 8 discrete audio channels which surround a listening/gallery space. Since each of the equidistant speakers reproduces a unique layer of each piece, the ‘compositions’ that visitors experience will change individually with their movement through the soundstage, their proximity to the respective monitors, and to other people in the space.
The Roedelius Cells is “an immersive and deeply-satisfying visitor experience” (Scott Boberg, TMA) – it is Story’s poetic reflection of the human mind’s deep search for pattern in the face of entropy; a sly subversion of our notions of authorship and creation; and an elusive, mesmerizing celebration of the legacy of Story’s esteemed friend and collaborator Hans-Joachim Roedelius.
It’s been said of sound art that “one man’s noise is another man’s music.” The Roedelius Cells imagines the possibility that one man’s music might also become “another man’s music.”
In the course of recording several music projects over the past decade, long-time collaborators Tim Story and Hans-Joachim Roedelius captured many hours of Roedelius’ intuitive solo piano improvisations. Rediscovering these extended recordings years later, Story began treating them more as building blocks than finished compositions. Recombining very small edits of this material into layered, evolving patterns, Story painstakingly built compositions solely from the source piano recordings, but which bore little resemblance to Roedelius’ originals. These short, repeating, interlocked layers – consisting of thousands of fragments , each often just a few seconds in duration – create a syncopated, shimmering interplay more reminiscent of Steve Reich’s structured minimalism than Roedelius’ expansive lyricism. Bits of extraneous noise and conversation from the casual sessions occasionally get swept up into the evolving loops, creating a kind of eerie human percussion. To extend the act of ‘re-composition’ to the listeners themselves, Story incorporates a playback system that spreads the individual layers discretely amongst 8 speakers, so that travelling through the physical space changes the fundamental perception of the cells’ interactions in unique, evolving and unrepeatable ways.
“I’ve always been fascinated how we humans continually create order out of randomness, how our brains construct ‘compositions’ out of the haphazard sounds and visuals of everyday life. Creating audio art from ‘found sounds’ is nothing new, composers of musique concrète and audio collage have been doing it since the advent of audio recording. But what if these found sounds were not recordings of events in nature or industry, but rather bits and pieces culled from someone else’s musical performance? This ‘music made from music’ is often radically removed from the original piano pieces played by Joachim – but though his performances have been mercilessly chopped, interrupted and rearranged, the innate lyricism and delicacy of his playing magically survive.
“Systems music of this kind depends so much on the audio content that is subjected to the process. In Cells, the exclusive use of piano – one of the most universally recognizable of Western instruments - encourages the listener to both focus on the conceptual process itself, and engage with the work in a more viscerally musical way. Most importantly, this familiarity allows Cells to quietly subvert expectations of what ‘piano music’ can be. Like the pixels in a video image (or the dabs of color in impressionist painting) that dissolve into abstraction the closer one approaches, so do the cells surrender their cohesion and re-coalesce into new patterns as listeners explore the soundstage.
“The word cells was chosen deliberately – it refers both to the audio building blocks layered into each composition, and to the word’s organic biological meaning– the intensely personal expression that seems to flow so effortlessly from my friend Joachim’s musical DNA. So, whose music is this, anyway? There’s no easy answer, but by encouraging the listener to become collaborator, and fundamentally reinterpret my reinterpretations by the way in which he or she moves through these cells, I hope to bring the act of ‘composing’ full-circle.”
An audio installation consisting of 8 equally-spaced audio monitors (preferably self-powered) in a circular configuration, and an 8-channel audio playback device (which will be supplied). The size and specifications of the audio monitors will vary based on the dimensions of the intended gallery/listening space, and the power requirements necessary to achieve optimal sound levels. The playback device consists of a self-contained solid state computer processor and a multichannel audio interface which deliver the 8 discrete channels of synchronized audio. Programmed to load automatically and loop indefinitely upon power-up, the installation is suitable for short and long-term exhibition with minimal oversight.
Grammy-nominated American composer Tim Story has been called “a master of electronic chamber music” (CD Review, USA), and a “true artist in the electronic medium” (Victory review, USA). Through three decades of influential recordings and live performances, Story’s unique blend of careful composition and innovative sound design has garnered a dedicated worldwide following.
Austria-based German composer Hans-Joachim Roedelius has profoundly influenced generations of musicians in a career spanning more than a half-century and over 100 solo and collaborative recordings. From his groundbreaking duo Cluster with Dieter Moebius, to his genre-crossing solo works and collaborations with luminaries including Brian Eno, Roedelius is recognized as one of Europe’s most important sound pioneers. Equally at ease with the most abstract of electronics and the most evanescent of piano solos, Roedelius has exerted an indelible, global impact on ambient, electronic, experimental, and wholly undefinable genres of music.
Longtime friends and colleagues, Roedelius and Story have collaborated on many musical projects, including the acclaimed albums Lunz (2003), Inlandish (2007), and Lazy Arc (2014).