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Flügel Klingen
Susanna Fritscher

The materials I use – plastics, films, fine netting, or filaments – are light enough to float on air, so that they seem to become one with the volume of air they occupy. They play with and within space, subverting and inverting our perception of materiality: air acquires texture, sheen, a quality, we can see its flow, its movement. In my most recent works – describable in terms of vibration, oscillation, waves, frequencies – the air acquires a palpable, almost visible or audible, reality that can be modified and shaped.

My first sound works (2011-2015) – performed, recorded or played in exhibition spaces – explored the irruption of the voice and tried to detect how sound is formed in our vocal chords. They draw on a vocabulary that predates the genesis of language: clicks of the tongue, the smacking of lips, breathing, whispering, stammered or rhythmic utterances.

Now, in 2017, the voice is freeing itself from its relationship to the body, and becoming abstract: the workings of the voice are recreated using an assemblage of tubular elements centred around an invisible rotating motor. When the circular motion accelerates, it increases the force of the flow and causes the columns of air inside the tubes to vibrate, producing a basic, almost imperceptible frequency. As the speed increases, the frequency shifts, becomes more complex and invades the surrounding space. As the installation dissolves into the air, and dematerialises, it is transformed into sound: the rhythmic play of the vibrations becomes a spatial experience.

The project for Mondes flottants, devised for the Saône silo at La Sucrière, radicalises the relationship between sound and space. The ‘sound propellers’ have been sized up to reflect the scale of the setting: they rise and expand in seven-metre circles, revisiting the architecture of the hall. The tubular elements echo the silo’s cylindrical form, and their circular traces reproduce its contours. ‘As the contours of the tubes disappear, form is dematerialised and transmuted into sound: the spatial experience is reduced to the play of vibrations, in other words it is reduced, once again, to the experience of a murmur of sound.’[1] 

The sound installation is open; sound is emitted simultaneously at the centre of the space, and around its periphery. As they rise, the sound components activate the resonant spectrum of the hall as a whole, evolving from a salvo of echoes in its centre to a more diffuse reverberation around its walls. We hear the measure of the room: the space of the silo is revealed through its intrinsic acoustic properties, the flow and spread of the vibrations.

Flügel, Klingen can also become a musical space: a musician plays in the centre while the propellers resonate, rise, open and close all around, enveloping the performer.


[1] Philippe-Alain Michaud, exhibition catalogue De l’air, de la lumière et du temps, p.17, musée d’Arts, Nantes, exhibition from 23 June to 8 October 2017.