Andreas Leo Findeisen: Abstraction and Action

It may be called a predicate of the progression of civilization that for the processes, we are still or again describing with notions such as modernity or globalization,the networked use of technical innovations is experienced as evoking an acceleration effect, a vehemence of communicative dynamics owing to a novel condition that is, at least for most of us, difficult to understand in its intrinsic dimensionality. This vehemence, in turn, shapes the mental space of our daily lives. The philosophical task would then be to describe these change of forms again and again, wrapping it with words to be able to look at it from the outside and to again make perceptible the resistive character of reflection
The media philosopher Vilém Flusser based his account of media history on five developmental stages in which people hold their environment at bay by the use of media so as to memorise, explicate, ban and shape it. Besides the invention of images that capture three-dimensional objects into two dimensions, the use of language has a strong influence as words capture, in turn, the images, at the expense of another loss of dimensionality. In the more recent invention of written and printed type, language is brought into a quasi one-dimensional line, from left to right, the `facts` and their connections are passing by, -at least in the semiotic tradition of our alphabets-, in a mind shaped by reading. It is rewarded, on the small scale as well as on the large scale, by a historical consciousness, a temporal space conceived in between before and after, or, in a logical sense: between cause and effect. The same thing happens, consequently, in these sentences, when read from left to right.

But according to Flusser, the epoch of writing culture is waning. He had correctly foreseen the emergence of "zero-dimensional" media capabilities such as text-related programming, computation and the fast transmissions of texts and images in data form . In his eyes, they highlight our exit from an alphabetically and logically structured dimensionality of our conception of the world. Instead, an increasing number of techno-images, graphics, logos and charts describe our environment, they represent, in the last resort, texts. This does not need to be bad. It is however, really new, and should be perceived and reflected as confusion.
It comes as no surprise that in the very moment a work of art is finalised and exhibited, representatives of this form of culture supposedly down for the count are frequently invited to install explanatory words next to artistic offerings of present-day images and emotions. If a work of art strives to candidate for contemporaneity, the essential challenge is to reduce the abundance of daily impressions and their associations by relating it to a sensual theme or topic by an analysis, a delicate conceptual dissection in the medial make-up of something. This opens up new potentialies that, in a second step, can be captured in a sculptural installation, an aesthetic experience only to be to undergone at this specific work of art. Here, Flusser differentiated between the operations of the imagination, where an image enters the observer and influences him or her, and, in his adaption of Immanuel Kant´s art theory, the imaginativeness, the ability to translate intuitive abstract conceptions into tangible concrete ones. This concretion, the work as such, is not to be confused with simplicity; however, its contents can remain highly complex as long as a consistent analysis has preceded it. Preliminary analysis is an indispensable condition of minimalist and conceptual art in particular. In the world of contemporary art, Elizabeth Grübl is one of its leading representatives
The Interior of Departure - Sound and Position
The material aspect of the installation f II, III, f, f IV consists of a low, equal-sided
wooden platform and three headphones. Anyone who wants to experience the artwork can do so sitting down. This platform, called the podium, is of such dimensions that it allows for different constellations of discrete sociability. Strangers may maintain a comfortable distance and experience the sounds almost individually, while people who know each other are free to align the states of their inner space and sound perception with each other by communicating through gestures and mimics while exploring the different impacts of three different tones. Looking from the outside, the platform itself acts as a kind of stage on which one can adhere to observe others while listening to sounds.

The soundscapes perceived directly within the ear canals are called drones. They consist of long tonal structures that have been developed in the field of experimental music since the 1970s. They are the result of experiments that Grübl carried out in a recording studio open to visual artists and have been undertaken in many complex and overlapping cycles. Those who are familiar with her previous works or have encountered the distinct intensity of concentration and contraction apparent in her Studios series can hardly be surprised by the paradoxical formulation that Elisabeth Grübl has carved the final shape out of the initial sound material onto a stretch of time. The composition of drones pertains to the most complex procedures that can be implemented as sonic experiences. Drones arise from the deliberate abandonment of anything that might stand out as a repetition. Neither rhythm nor melody nor sequential harmonies contour the soundscapes, any movement virtually takes place as a sonic background, within the unusually slow-going changes in the microtonal scenarios of timbres. But whoever believes that it is "just a tone" offered to the ear misconceives the abyss of listening that is mostly hidden in the perceptions of everyday life. No artistic aesthetic can work on the dissolution of our inner personal sentience as sound art is able to. One of its pioneers, the American composer Phill Niblock, described its specific nature: "Sound can change your perception, (...) you start off hearing one thing, but when you begin to give up listening to one certain aspect of it or trying to intellectualize it, it opens up and you begin to float.
At first, the sounds f II, f III, f IV resemble the noise of the interior of a Concorde airplane while climbing to its cruising altitude. However, one of the sounds is e.g. mixed with what is known as a sawtooth oscillation in electronic music, so palpably in such an apparent manner that each metaphorization, each associative comparison with the sounds from already known worlds of travel neutralizes itself after a short period. If one then manages to avoid reflecting, the sound "opens up” and the listener starts to glide upward in an irritatingly abstract, and, because of that, intense movement, as if millions of volts and the ground tension of several power plants were necessary to produce such a controlled emotional sensation of a high-voltage journey. In addition, the sound suggests its position high up in physical space, still well below the ceiling, but forcing itself upwards with full force. While the body sits and the eyes watch other visitors of the exhibition, Grübl guides her listener into a passage-like feeling in the midst of a sonic space plane. With the normal and familiar in front of the eyes, this is perceived from the interior of an audiophonic departure. 

The form of intervention Elisabeth Grübl has chosen is an initial seperation of the two sensibilites of the ears and eyes to then co-relate them anew with minimal interference. The result is a superposition of everyday life with the impression of traveling upwards and outwards in an enigmatic vehicle of the 4th Millennium, in a static, ultrasonic shift to hypernormality.
Wall / Tickling / Smile - The Public Space as a Group Massage
Another constellation of discrete sociability is untitled, interactive installation (in cooperation with Manfred Grübl). Apart from an electric power supply, four commercially obtainable electric massage mats suffice as material. The rest of the work lives by the artistic mis-en-scene and is thus related to Marcel Duchamp's invention of decontexualization. The objects as such depict the graphical typos of the human body and seem to deserve, apart from being merely industrial mass products, their restaging into a sculptural statement. But Duchamp's bottle rack has never been used again for drying bottles and nobody has ever riden the bicycle wheel he fixed onto a chair. In Elizabeth Grübl´s version, this loss of function is in turn canceled. The visitors are actually offered a massage and can even choose which area of the body is to be treated as well as the intensity or the frequency of the intervals. Again, this installation is not enrirely silent as, the humming, cranking, rattling and clattering of electric motors is quite audible. Every change of an individual massage setting inevitably becomes part of an unworried and playful sound ensemble. The visitors generate a massage-jam session and are therefore also part of the sculptural ensemble, if not even take the main role in it.

Massage mats, although a mass product, are associated with individual use, in privacy and in a horizontal position. Within this context, the mats are vertically fixed to a wall, side by side.

Moreover, the stimulation of the bodily senses plays a major role here, in caressing the calves, the titillation of the buttocks or a tumbling movement against the back muscles is not something that would normally be experienced in public space. Indeed, the avoidance of such a situation can almost be called essential for in the Western constitution of a subject, of discipline, and therefore civilization. This is why women or men rarely get the opportunity to experience first hand other people´s pleasurable expression of live physical enjoyment, except when they are crowded together during a pop concert, in the passenger compartment of public transport or in a hot sauna. Never, or very rarely, does it occur in the arts. As in f II f III, f IV, the sensual experience of a static condition of high-energy, a standstill situation of unusual transportation of energy and movement is served, but this time in a more cheerful, physical and playful manner.

The Anarchive
Three mid-sized models of construction cranes rotate around their own axis in an absurdist ballet of means of production. It almost seems as if they were still trying to,- as it used to be, to fish for yet another component on the ground for the sake of building up piece by piece, floor by floor of yet another proud and novel construction. Just as if we were to witnessing the formation of yet another new display of height and grandeur. But the material parts that are lying about around the cranes consist solely of old, pre-recorded VHS tapes. Their mass and number strengthen the impression of their functional obsolescence. Their archival value is to be doubted as they still work with magnetic tape, they have become dinosaurs of media evolution. No VHS player is in sight, because who, in all honesty, who would want to even listen to the whir and snap of some magnetic tape threading itself around a video head today, nearly 20 years after the triumphal advent of digitization tools, of the seemingly unstoppable spread of globally networked and connected hard drives and the bizarre oddity of the frictionless producibility of a copy. Nobody. Cranes express themselves in an idle formative will on the edge of a 1980's era sound and image data dump. After all, in this form, information is still capable of material decay. One can become a bystander of its self-eradication and grimly take note of the fact to still be there oneself. Bits come and go much more subtly as graven logic does not die, it also does not disappear, it annihilates. It is anarchival as such
Without Horizon - Line / Lines
Slow, so slow indeed that it can by no means stem from the 21st century, a black line wanders over the screens of three monitors, from left to right.

The last thing it seems to do is represent something of our present time. On the other hand this might just merely be an erroneous first sight impression, a mistake of an ordinary thinking that is only interested in looking for insights concerned with entities of representation or crosslinking.
Because it remains unclear: Is it always a new line that is sent from the off? Or is it the one, an identical child of the same cycle? Does it measure a distinct dimension of time that would otherwise remain unnoticed? Or should we concede to it having self-sufficiency, so is it just there as it is?
To situate the artwork in a Flusserian horizon of reflection, perhaps that what is given to be observed here is, -though itself not a text -, the one-dimensional rest of an image. Would then, after all, the movement of the line actually be denoting a real word that, again, has an introspective form of contemplation as its subject matter?
And if so, which one could be hiding itself there? Continuing this train of thought, this particular kind of impression would be impossible to convey using words without falling into semantic triviality, nor would it be possible to be transferred from one person onto another.
Without giving away whether this impossibility is rather due to the structure of a riddle or the structure of a secret, the artwork might communicate an enciphered invitaton for a moment of personal understanding of the condition of possibility to present to oneself the impression of temporality sui generis, something only able to be experienced in a body enabled to process language, a body that is able to here.
Or I. Or now.
The scale of content of Elisabeth Grübl´s minimal interventions ranges from the culturally monstrous change of memory formats in the anarchive to public space as a democratically invigorating group massage, from the stasis of a supersonic feeling of departure into hypernormality to the disclosure of our ability to be here.
The way Grübl uses her means is convincing, because who would like to float into the future by the means of art without getting, -at least for the duration of a butterfly´s sip-, a memento, of the distant strata of archaic undividedness with which Vilém Flusser begins his media tale of the human being?