helmut heiss installation



electrode window installation


featuring a reading by ANDRÉ SCHÜRMANN


work on view in the electrodes MAY 9 thru MAY 17 2012

Helmut Heiss hi joseph,

here is a small description of my work for the electrodes:

1) I made a lot of sound recordings during my exploration walks in CHICAGO.

2) I transformed my bathroom into a (photo) darkroom.

3) I started building up a “machine” in the darkroom including an mp3 player, an amplifier, a speaker, a micro tripod, a small mirror, a laser pointer and photopaper.

4) the laser pointer its held by the micro tripod and was pointed at the small mirror witch was attached on the vibrating membrane of the speaker. the small mirror reflected the laser stream on a b/w photopaper. By playing for a view seconds the urban records, the speaker started to vibrate and the laser inscribed a “drawing” into the paper.

5) afterwards I developed the paper

6) the result is a sound produced photo witch looks like a drawing.

I think a small opening with a view beers and music would be really great.

let me know what you think,

best H.


the presented work illustrates HELMUT HEISS’ current experiments with sounds and shapes.

since his arrival, HEISS’ approach to the buzzing and sounding city of CHICAGO was rather a hearing than a seeing one (being the prototype perception in a widely-recognized city of architecture). he chose random sounds (mostly noises) on the grounds of their pictorial properties and made recordings of the various places and machinery:

there are sound samples of transport and the streets, stations, the casino, elevators, ventilation, the home, architecture itself.

mostly these are representations of late industrialization as well as contemporary high-end technologies. they are mainly artificial sounds, created by machines, to be ‘translated’ by another ‘machine’.

the next step was this machine-medium or transformer that could create pictures from the sound material or produce information by translation (into a language we don’t quite understand).

transformation is a leitmotiv in HEISS’ art production. It’s about the search for alternative ways of creating pictures and the provocation of the senses. In this case, the aural stimulation becomes visual and evokes a synthetic sensation.

the artist posed various basic questions before the outcome of the presented art work:

Is the connection between hearing and seeing revealing?

can we trust our perception?

Is there a simultaneous fit of sound and image, a visualized sound, a common, universal language, even a metaphysical implication?

Is there a symbolic code or vocabulary of abstraction?

Is there a correlation between the representation of organic and inorganic sounds?

can we draw conclusions from the esthetic character of the ‘picture’ to its origin? Is there a relation to individual forms?

the technical equipment for visualizing the sounds: MP3-player, amplifier, vibrating speaker membrane, loudspeaker, mirror, micro-tripod, laser pointer, photo paper. the sound is projected onto the paper in a darkroom setting. the exposure time is two seconds.*

It’s interesting that the reproduced sounds resemble photos, drawings or writing but not pictures. In HEISS’ eyes they are a mix between landscape photo, self-portrait, recording in a language/sound way. It can be seen as a translation or transcription, information is being conveyed.

with the production of a wide set of sounds ‘translated’ into visuals, the result could indeed become a sort of an alphabet. the abstract resonance could serve as information carrier. this wasn’t the artist’s main intention. his principal focus lay on conducting the experiment and the trial series.

this unique experiment will be edited in 10 ‘pictures’.

*GERMAN physicist CHLADNI (1756–1827) experimented with the vibration of sonorous glass and metal bodies over which he sprinkled sand (in 1785). CHLADNI himself was inspired by LICHTENBERG’S shapes and sound-trials.