Gerhard Eckel

Artistic Practice is a Process of Formulation
Austria (residence) °1962
affiliation: University of Music and Performing Arts Graz

Gerhard Eckel is an artist using sound to explore ways of world making. He aims at articulating the aesthetic and epistemic dimensions of art, understanding artistic experience as a compound of action, perception and reflection. His works are the result of research processes drawing on practices of music composition, sound art, choreography and dance, installation art, interaction design and digital instrument making. Gerhard is professor of computer music and multimedia at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz in Austria. He also serves as an affiliate professor at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and as a visiting professor at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Besides his artistic work and teaching, he leads publicly funded transdisciplinary research projects and supervises scholarly and artistic doctoral research. See also


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  • Zeitraum (01/01/2013)
    Art object: Installation, Graz, artist(s)/author(s): Gerhard Eckel
    Zeitraum (German for ‘timespan’, literally ‘time space’) is a sound environment exposing the interrelation of time and space in acoustic communication. The environment is composed of many identical sound sources dispersed irregularly in a large space, playing an aleatoric ostinato of percussive sounds. When listened to from a particular location (the sweet spot, marked with a spot light on the floor), the pattern is perceived as an accented but isochronous beat. The ostinato is structured such that the sounds from all sources arrive with the same delay at the sweet spot, compensating for the differences in propagation time. When walking away from the sweet spot, the regular pulse gets more and more distorted as the distances to all sound sources change and with them the propagation delays from the sources to the listener. What starts as almost imperceptible deviations and passes through various areas with different kinds of grooves, ends up in a rhythmically completely disrupted and apparently chaotic sequence of events when listened to from far off the sweet spot. By moving about the space, the audience explores a space literally made out of time, a time space – a bewildering experience enacted through one’s locomotion, revealing the always baffling relativity of observation.
  • Bodyscapes (20/01/2009)
    Event: Performance, Graz, artist(s)/author(s): Valentina Moar, Gerhard Eckel, David Pirrò, Gerhard Eckel
    Bodyscapes is the result of a collective research and creation process involving dance, choreography, composition, as well as sound and interaction design aiming at exploring the various facets of an ecology of bodily movement and sound. The piece presents different spaces of possible relationships between movement and sound (bodyscapes), each baring a particular recognizable characteristic and identity. Particular attention has been paid to identifying the most archetypical of these relationships. Bodyscapes has been realized by Valentina Moar (dance, improvisation, and choreography), Gerhard Eckel, and David Pirrò (composition, live electronics, interaction design, and software development) in the context of the artistic and scholarly research project Embodied Generative Music.
  • Transpositions. From science to art (and back) (04/10/2017)
    Event: Conference, artist(s)/author(s): Gerhard Eckel, Michael Schwab, David Pirrò
    Stockholm, October 4 to 6, 2017 The final research event of the project Transpositions: Artistic Data Exploration. Science and art are usually held distinct due to the different kinds of processes they employ and the character of the conclusions that they draw. However, what if artists were to extend scientific methodologies while radicalising their stance in post-conceptual art under the heading ‘artistic research’? How can scientific data be pushed to the limits of representation? We think that science and art will still follow their own respective trajectories, yet they will start to ‘talk’ to each other in unexpected ways once their practices are enmeshed. After working with scientists and their data from fields as separate as computational neuroscience, quantum mechanics, cosmology, and molecular biology, and after preparing our artistic responses, we want to find out the character of our scientific-artistic conversations and how we can push the work even further. Transpositions are artistic forms created from scientific data that respect the epistemic potential of their material under aesthetic conditions. Extending representational registers, transpositions propose a new aesthetic-epistemic logic of material difference rather than formal identity. Placing the focus on transpositional operators – their inner workings and as strict logic – suggests inconsistencies are not detrimental to knowledge but necessary stages in a game of heightened complexity. The research event Transpositions: From science to art (and back) aims to provide an overview. It brings concepts, data, artworks, and people together for a three-day set of events spread across Stockholm. It offers numerous opportunities to engage with transpositions in exhibitions, installations, performances, presentations, and discussions. Keynote lecture by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. With contributions by: Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, Leif Dahlberg, Luc Derycke, Gerhard Eckel, Sabine Höhler, Victor Jaschke, Ioana Jucan, Tina O'Connell, Daniel Peltz, David Pirrò, Hanns Holger Rutz, Pelin Sahlén, Michael Schwab, Phoebe Stubbs, Nina Stuhldreher, Neal White and many more. In cooperation with the Royal College of Music, the Royal Institute of Art, the Royal Institute of Technology, Färgfabriken, and Audiorama. Funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (PEEK, AR 257)


Exposition: In the prison of permanent change (22/11/2012) by Gerhard Eckel
Gerhard Eckel 26/11/2012 at 17:49

Within the formalistic approach I have chosen, the control of time was excluded from the composition, aiming at an abstract formulation, at a "weak gesture" in Groys' sense. Both rhythm and melody rely on some notion of time - rhythm as a sequence of time intervals and melody as a sequence of tones.


To answer your question I have to leave the chosen formalistic framwork - a choice I took in my experiments with the research catalogue format. I am interested in finding or creating examples of using the research catalogue as the medium for art works - sound art works in my case. I adopted a conceptual attitude in order to be able to write this piece in two sentences and publish it here as the abstract. The empty white page is for me an allusion to the prison scene in George Lucas' movie THX 1138 (something I became aware of once I looked at what I did).


But now to answer your question, if musical structure doesn't offer two types of identity at the same time, one as material and one in the experience. I think I agree with you, that it does and it doesn't need to be rhythm or melody, which are structures resulting from a particular way of thinking music. If you think music from the point of view of the sound, most probably other structures will be relevent. And I think your argument also applied to those - there is the possibility that they do offer two types of identity at the same time. But what is the relationship between these identities? Isn't this the important question from a compositional point of view? I think we cannot think them as isomorphic. Moreover, an identity on the level of the material may not offer an identity in the perception and vice versa.


How is your interest in identities motivated?

Exposition: In the prison of permanent change (22/11/2012) by Gerhard Eckel
Gerhard Eckel 23/11/2012 at 20:18

In a similarly minimalistic genre, it would be decorrelated noise played through many speakers distributed aleatorically in the room.


The listening experience would be more or less the same independently of the listeners position and orientation. The residual variation would be quite predictable for the listener, in contrast to what happens with the sine tone. Interferences of the sine tone with its reflections from the surfaces of the room will change its level with the tiniest movement of the listener's head. The amount of the change will depend on the chosen frequency and the room, but there will always be such an effect, therefore the listeners will find themselves "... in a prison of permanent change" (Boris Groys, as quoted in Annie Abrahams' JAR2 exposition "Trapped to Reveal - On webcam mediated communication and collaboration").


Both propositions are paradoxical. On the one hand, the sine tone is the simplest, most redundant signal we can imagine, but its identity is very hard to experience in a room (a headphone would do). On the other hand, the noise represents the biggest amount of change we can imagine in a sound, but in the imagined situation it will create a liberating uniformity. The movements of the listeners will not disturb the experience of identity, they will feel immersed in a sea of sound, which doesn't change due to their agency.