RT60 – Städelschule Rundgang

The first complete stage of the RT60 project was exhibited at Städelschule Rundgang 2012. The installation consisted of three prints, a looping sound station, and a publication which included theory, discourse, and practical aspects of the project and its execution.

RT60 – the authenticity of space through sound

The RT60 project involves ongoing research, inquiry and artistic processes focusing on the notion of individualistic sonic identity within architecture. This is accomplished primarily through concentration on the inherent ‘sonic fingerprint’ of each individual structure, in accordance to its unique and specific design, dimensions, and materials, all of which are captured, examined, and expressed through impulse response technology, then mediated into various forms of abstraction.

Introduced in the winter 2010 of the Städelschule Forensic Aesthetics Seminar, this project began as a formal investigation of space and time. With support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Dutch company Audio Ease, the industry leading impulse response and convolution technologists of the last several years, this series utilizes analytic processes and state of the art software to sample room acoustics and their frequency and decay characteristics via impulse response (a means of calculated measure). The software provides the ability to analyze via visual waterfall graphs, all of these characteristics as well as the opportunity to use this impulse response to reproduce or emulate these sonic characteristics. In essence, each space can be sampled and reapplied to any other sound sources at any later time, thus capturing, sustaining, and immortalizing a moment of specific and unique time and place.

As this investigation furthers, not only do varied and complex formal and analytical processes and notions emerge, but those of conceptual and philosophical nature do as well, specifically in regards to a modern / postmodern discourse. The complex tension between inherence, universality and isolated, contextualized, specific condition makes way for further consideration and examination. When applied to 20th century Modernist Architecture, this dialectic magnifies. What happens when a structure designed with utopian and universal means and method begins to demonstrate and prove that its own characteristics are unique to only itself? What happens when within this space, a myriad and potentially infinite number of characteristics are present, namely in impulse responses that change from subtle location, temperature, and material shifts? Does this undermine the whole notion of Modernism itself or does it bear a new breed? Does it push Modern / Postmodern discourse to a closer point of reconciliation, heading further towards hybridization? What does this mean for space and time, especially when re-producible? What could this mean regarding experience and action taken within our daily lives, and those that can be re-contextualized in such dramatic ways? These are only a handful of many of the continually emerging discoveries and branches of inquiry unveiled through this investigation.

Only now in this day and age of technology and computing, as well as deeper understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live, can we utilize these new methods of measurement and analysis to consider and reframe our own existence and those we manifest.

For the initial stage of this project, to exhibit at the Städelschule Rundgang 2012, I have sampled three spaces within the Städelschule: the rector office, the aula, and my shared atelier H7 (which is also the office of the ‘Institut für Kunstkritik’). This first stage provided the opportunity to explore and establish the processes of this investigation, and to examine the differences within one material structure utilizing small, medium, and large formal attributes, allowing for a strong and stable pedagogical base. Although chosen mostly for their formal attributes, these particular Städelschule spaces are also important, as they represent key points of power and socio-political order as ‘government / head’, ‘state / collective’, and ‘subject / individual’.

For the next stage, the RT60 project will result in an audio catalog and archive of the ‘sonic fingerprints’ (impulse-response measurements) of selected, landmark twentieth-century modernist structures including: Bauhaus buildings (main building, studio building, and master houses) by Walter Gropius (Dessau); Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies Van der Rohe (Berlin); Haus Le Corbusier Weissenhofsiedlung Museum (Stuttgart); and Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Frankfurter Küche in the Ernst May Haus (Frankfurt). These important locations were chosen as they are notable and influential materializations of the grand modernist era aesthetic, in which Bauhaus and pre World War II Germany was its birthplace and epicenter and from which these key figures emerged, among others. Dependent on discovery, time, budget, access, and other allowances, other possible landmark locations may be added to this list.

Copyright © 2012 Alan B. Brock-Richmond. All rights reserved.