Who’s Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1)

Ari Benjamin Meyers
October 28 – November 13, 2016

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Susanne Fröhlich playing one of the modules

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

The composer Wojtek Blecharz working on a score, based on Ari Benjamin Meyers’ meta-scores.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

The composer Wojtek Blecharz working on a score, based on Ari Benjamin Meyers’ meta-scores.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

The composer Wojtek Blecharz working on a score, based on Ari Benjamin Meyers’ meta-scores.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Susanne Fröhlich performing Day 5.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Susanne Fröhlich writing the day on the wall.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who's Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1), 2016

49 musical modules (digital print on paper), 15 meta scores (foil print, projected), 1 theme (blind embossing, paper), 52 manufactured stands for instruments (pine/spruce, white lacquered) 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Who’s Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention 1)

Ari Benjamin Meyers
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
October 28 – November 13, 2016
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The subject of this musical work is the process of composing. Ari Benjamin Meyers finds a precise and poetic yet intuitively accessible representation of the work of a composer.  Starting from a brief seed theme composed by Meyers, along with the various deconstructions of its motif (‘building blocks’) and the 15 so-called ‘meta-scores’ that Meyers has constructed from them, a composer/perfomer develops new musical translations every day. These in turn are interpreted and rehearsed daily by a musician/performer before erasing its written record. 

 

The theme, 15 meta-scores, and the 49 modules, constitute Ari Benjamin Meyers suggested framework for the work of the composer/performer. The composer’s daily activity is made visible by being projected on the wall and audible by the musician’s play. Each day the musician performs the sequence of compositions from previous days until the final day when all are performed from memory. This latter action centers on the life of a composed work: once a composer has created a score it becomes an instruction for a musician, and its performance exists only in the memory of its performers and their audience. 

 

It is this parallel between the composition of scores and central tenets of 20th century conceptualism to which the title of the work alludes: ‘Sol’ playfully refers to conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, to whose Instruction Pieces and Wall Drawings Meyers makes direct reference. Late in the 1960s, LeWitt increasingly began to distance himself from a classical concept of the composed work of art and instead set down precise instructions in writing, on the basis of which assistants then produced drawings. The “idea”, as he wrote in his Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, “becomes a machine that produces art.” 

 

The first part of the title, Who’s Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention I), evokes Barnett Newman’s famous four-part series of monochrome paintings Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue (1966–1970) (whose title alludes to Edward Albee’s 1962 play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which in turn alluded to the children’s song Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?). The second part of the title comes from the row of musical syllables ‘do, re, mi, fa, so(l), la, ti’, which was developed in medieval times to facilitate the recognition and singing of different tones in a scale.

 

At its first presentation at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Meyers’s Who’s Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention I) was arranged accordingly in the exhibition space: in the first room, all the musical building blocks of Meyers’s core theme were on view, together with the collection of recorders, while in the second area composer and musician compose and perform, surrounded by projections of the daily ‘meta-scores’ which are subsequently replaced by the composer’s daily musical translations (and in turn erased daily by the musician.) The third room, lastly, presented the brief fundamental theme to which all subsequent compositions and interpretations can be traced back. Thus the audience is presented not with a finished, clearly contoured work, but rather is itself faced with the question of how the composing process can be experienced within an exhibition context. The work thus contains a self-reflexive component, which takes the measure both of the composer’s role and of authorship. 

 

Meyers’ work may be understood as a translation of this principle in musical terms. Scores, too, function ultimately as instructions for their interpreters, who in this specific case have increasing influence on the piece. The process of composing and rehearsing is repeated and extinguished every day in veritable Sisyphean style, whereby the piece that is to be memorized gets longer from day to day. There are no publically available recordings or videos of the daily compositions and the finale at the end of the exhibition is also not a concert in the classical sense. The final performance nonetheless constitutes the highpoint of the compositional process illustrated here, before the result completely vanishes and lives on only in memory.

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