Empty Spaces


Empty Spaces (#1) | 2013 | Installation view ATW, Linz/A


Empty Spaces | 2013 | Edition of 42+8 Vinylpostcards

Space is (culturally) produced through specific social processes. Space in contrary to goods however is at the same time a material object and a medium through which other goods and socio political conditions are created. This way space constantly reproduces and modifies socio-political conditions for its production.1

To think of space as social space means to be able to banish the notion of an empty and neutral space, that allows abstract localization, and likewise various ideas of space as a general or particular form of perception. More likely to assume space to be filled, of the space-fullness, mentioned in Leibnitz´s „Monadology“ and which is interspersed with aspirations, forces, diversity, multiple determinations and even relationships themselves. To think of space as social space simply doesn´t lead to stress the division, respective functions or the symbolic occupation of space through which social structures are developed (organized, arranged) but refers to the„ distribution within space“ (Deleuze) where space is produced through collective implementation.2

Empty Spaces deals with the developments and acoustic cartographies of vacant properties of western european cities (so far) in relation to the financial crisis. For this purpose so called eigenfrequenz of vacant spaces are made audible and recorded via an amplifier. Many western european cities have countless square meters of unused living and working space. A for instance for strategic reasons vacant building expresses a very specific type of criticism of socio- economic conditions, simply by its passive will to nothingness and the consequential melancholia that it radiates. One is reminded of Melvilles Bartleby and his „ Formular“ 3 which makes every bodies head spin.: I would prefer not to. Its radical character consists by its relentless nature. Grammatically correct and syntactically coherent she sounds despite its normal construction, like an anomaly. This „ box construction“4 something inherently unspeakable, she „ enables the growth of a indeterminacy zone“, […] she creates the blank spaces in language. Bartelby reacts to these blank spaces by retracting silently as soon as he has spoken the sentence, because afterwards there is nothing left to say. As if he had excavated a foreign language by removing their contexts, references and preconditions. This happens in an astonishingly similar way with vacant flats and shops. They also slip away from the grammatical structure of urban connectedness and remain in a peculiar „non state“. They are manifestations of indeterminacy zones.They talk to us about their emptiness in a grammatical formula of emptiness seemingly soft, patient and soundless. But what does this talking sound like, this language, which seemingly comes from a prelinguistic outside?

Empty Spaces lets spaces speak for themselves and thus opens up the possibility to experience and hear vacant spaces temporarily inscribing themselves into an urban context. For this purpose we systematically record and successively amplify objects of our choice and their specific eigenfrequencies. To start with we install microphones, computers and loudspeakers in specifically chosen spaces. Recordings of a specific time frame are played back and simultaneously recorded. The spaces are kept locked up during this time and the system works in a totally self-sufficient manner. After the recording process is finished the results are fitted via granular synthesis into a fixed dimension, this enables the recordings of the evolving ambient sound of the property to be pressed into 4-6 minute editions of vinyl post cards. A further component of the project is web based cartography of the documented vacant spaces connected to the recorded material. This virtual archive enables visitors for instance, through a virtual city map connected to an audio file, to inform themselves about each vacant property, to access an audio file corresponding with a directly on the property mounted QR-code or to remix their own sound collage. The development of the website and the extensive expansion of the archive material with further recordings are the primary focus of phase two of the project.