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Bi-lingual encounter, music and emotions

3 Jul

Communication is one of the pillars of INSIDEOUT
Ildiko and I, Hilla, had a long conversation about how differently words/language can be understood depending on the own mother tongue where words are connected to emotions and meaning:

Bi-lingual encounter, music and emotions

by Ildiko Meny

One of my last attempts of a course in Spanish language was cut short because of the very attractive and very busy young teacher. At eight in the morning she forced the small class of four pupils to rapidly spur on irregular verbs and made us count to hundred, hacking the numbers in her laptop in the speed of her language…usually I like this speed, but at eight in the morning I need more time to sort out my daily duties and all the different languages and thoughts that are uploading the moment every new morning I open my eyes… of dreams, plans, listening to my kids and sorting my daily duties just don’t match with the declination of irregular Spanish verbs at eight in the morning, so the course was only sounds and negative emotions…….”cantar sin canzion”.

For me to learn a new language is first by listening to the music and sounds … real songs but also the music and sounds of single words and expressions. I was always fascinated by this musicality of language since I entered the world of words and sometimes I am still struck by interference of meaning and sound of a word in any language. Then I think a lot only about one word and this fulfills me with pleasure to learn more words in any language or to explore deeper the ones I already know.

When I sing Hungarian cradle songs to my children they feel like one word filled with sounds of sleepy love. Maybe that’s the function of cradle songs but when I first listened to Spanish cradle songs (Canción de Cuna de las Canciones Negras de Xavier Montsalvatge) the same emotional reaction filled in immediately, even when I had to hear them twice to understand the meaning, which often is very easy and simple…I am not a linguist, but the sounds of single words are so wonderful, that they lead to a whole emotionally loaded song in my brain. Sometimes because of the power of my own imaginations and associations, which often lead to a completely wrong direction, is “perro,- dog” in Spanish, coming from perilous….peligroso…no, it is not!

Maybe this is leading to so many misunderstandings in any language, we hear a word or a sentence and immediately there is a certain song sang in our brain, which does not correspond with the song in the speakers mind. (pupils all over the world can sing a “lament” on this everyday,” to be in the wrong place at the wrong time of day with the wrong person!”) Languages of emotions are individually different any time and anywhere, even when we use the very same words and language.

When I was teaching medical students about communication the fact that the transport of meaning is more than fifty percent non verbally, makes me think on how we dare to use the email and internet as one of our first and overestimated communication channels and how many and what parts of the message are lost?

What about all the misunderstandings, the misinterpretations and the blame, maybe we should communicate in Axioms not in words…

What do we hear and understand from what somebody says or writes? What remains? And how does that affect our continuative thoughts and actions?

I am also persuaded from the idea that I learn only from a person if I established trust and vividly interact with that person…I think I couldn’t get in touch with my young attractive Spanish teacher at all, even when I asked her for more time to make my homework, but I was to sleepy and lazy to analyze this more in depth.

When I started to learn French at age six, the beginning was also by singing songs that I still remember, even when these songs where more kind of little marching songs, but I used them for me the last time I had a dentists appointment…and I am still in deep affection with French poetry….I never encountered a better word for sigh than “sanglot “.

Les sanglots longs                 The long sobs
Des violons                              Of the violins
De l’automne                           Of Autumn
Blessent mon cœur                Wound my heart
D’une langueur                       With a monotonous
Monotone.                               Languor.

Maybe one day I will dig deeper into onomatopoeia (a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Onomatopoeia as an uncountable noun refers to the property of such words.) So poets make use of this and some good writers and journalists probably also. Maybe intuitively.

When I entered the INSIDEOUT performance project I was struck by the combination of the performing body and culture and the search for the expression of it in a completely free and experimental way…I am emotionally and intellectually linked to one of the artists and I am very curious to get in touch with all the others…the more personal the better, since I expect to dig into deeper cores of myself or watch the others do this and share in their home countries and places where they feel emotionally connected. And I am very keen to know how much those emotions are affected from either personal or culturally (probably both) stained experiences and how they will translate this into the project…movements, pictures, gestures, drawings and words…..

Tout suffocant                       All choked
Et blême, quand                   And pale, when
Sonne l’heure,                      The hour chimes,
Je me souviens                     I remember
Des jours anciens                old days
Et je pleure                             And I cry

Et je m’en vais                       And I’m going
Au vent mauvais                   On an ill wind
Qui m’emporte                      That carries me
Deçà, delà,                             Here and there,
Pareil à la                               As if a
Feuille morte.                        Dead leaf.

Verlaine – Chanson d’ automne

Madrid – March 2012


What do Medieval Writings have in common with Performance Art?

7 Mar

Or: Why scientists and artists should work togehter

(German version below)

by Hilla Steinert

Berlin – Brandenburg Academy of Science, the correlation of science and art in the Salon Sophie Charlotte: Knowledge is Art – Art is Knowledge on the 22.1.2012

Activities under the theme science and art in the whole house: panel discussions, presentations of projects, installations and art events.
Many people, lots of them older and old, all shared a wide aware look.

I sit down in an empty corridor in front of a screen and watch a documentation about the history of the academy.

In front of me a half open door.
Through the gap I see shelves filled with old cardboard boxes.
All of them labeled and precisely strung.
That makes me curious. What might be in those boxes?
On the door is a sign which says: “German Texts of the MIddle Ages”
In actual fact not my theme. But I would like to know wether there are really old writings in the boxes. It is the truly age I am interested in and the originality. I want to smell it, touch it and, if that is not possible, at least look at it.

A woman comes out of the door and closes it. What a pity, I think and I ask her wether the room stays locked now. If I am interested, she will be back in 10 minutes, in case I want to wait for so long.

I wait.
The woman is Dr. Astrid Breith. She sakes me in and closes the door behind us.
Determined she gets two books out of the shelf and puts them in front of me. Old, linen-bound exemplars.
All of that is concerned with the content of the boxes.  which I am allowed to look at and touch later.
These are no Medieval Writings, but also already old archiving notes and descriptions. Witnesses of another time.

Fast I get into an excursion into Medieval Writings.

Mrs. Dr. Breith tells me where the first writings were found, who wrote what and for whom. Ever and anon she supplements with illustrative material.
She tells that in some places first it was read by speaking the text. When she was showing me the script I understood: they wrote without dot and comma. Not even the words got separated through a distance. They had to read loud for to understand the meaning.
She also told me that the act of writing was a kind of meditation in some abbeys. That means the monks murmured the text, the ear assimilated it, it got led through the body, which is the home of spirit and soul, and at the end it flew out through the hand. That is one reason because the printing craft also was told black art: that was devil`s work without a soul.

She also talked excited about romances from the Middle Ages which have close sense of humor than novels nowadays.

Above all of that we started talking about technics of writing and ended in the present. We started comparing. There was for example the question wether texts written on the computer do have a higher quality than texts written by hand.
How does the act of writing with the hand influence the content and the way of thinking?

I drew the following conclusion, that in each cultural era we are confronted with an equal phenomenon. And this phenomenon is named transformation. Somethings are similar to romances. The humor itself is the same, but of course the form changed.

If there would not be somebody taking care about the past by digging out, describing, naming, filing and retaining through that? Then we would not have the chance of comparing. Through comparing we find knowledge. Trough comparing we describe the change of the world.

In that case we, the humans, are the world. Animals and plants are not interested in that.

And what has that to deal with the medium of performance art?

Both, Medieval Writings and Performance Art, are sources of knowledge.
They were generated to express and communicate something. Both base on an act, performed with the body. To be able to read them oneself has to concern with it. To concern with something for to understand it, I mean really understand it, implies the willingness to go a bit deeper. To be able go deeper oneself either has already interest or has to develop it.

A good method to develop or satisfy an interest is to listen. Also questioning is part of that. And that is exactly what we have done and that is also exactly where I see a significant interface between art and science.
But by the way of questioning the intentions differ. For me as artist a found question often is already an answer, traced and exposed knowledge, carried on. The scientist in contrast has to search for an answer. That is his challenge.

The common ground is the knowledge itself and the fact of wanting to know something. There is research, development and exposing on both sides. On the one side it gets named what is detectable, on the other side also an idea is carrier of knowledge.

As artist I enjoy the freedom of unscientific questioning and , may be, especially through that I open up into still unthought ways. Explored and described is as well as a preceding idea source of inspiration.


Was haben Mittelalterliche Schriften mit Performancekunst zu tun?

Oder: Warum Künstler und Wissenschaftler zusammen arbeiten sollten

von Hilla Steinert

Berlin – Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, die Verknüpfung von Wissenschaft und Kunst im Salon Sophie Charlotte: Wissen ist Kunst – Kunst ist Wissen am 22.1.2012

Im ganzen Haus Veranstaltungen zum Thema Wissenschaft und Kunst: Podiumsdiskussionen, Projektvorstellungen, Installationen und Kunstevents.
Viele Menschen, davon viele älter und alt, allen gemeinsam der wache Blick.

Ich lasse mich in einem menschenleeren Gang vor einem Bildschirm nieder und  sehe eine Zusammenfassung über die Geschichte der Akademie.

Vor mir eine halb geöffnete Tür.
Durch den Spalt sehe ich ein Regal, das mit alten Pappkartons gefüllt ist.
Allesamt beschriftet und säuberlich aufgereiht.
Das macht mich neugierig. Was mag wohl in den Schachteln sein?
An der Tür hängt ein Schildchen auf dem steht: “Deutsche Texte des Mittelalters”. Eigentlich überhaupt nicht mein Thema. Aber ich möchte schon gerne wissen, ob da tatsächlich alte Schriften drin sind. Es ist das Alter, das mich interessiert und die Originalität, das Wahrhaftige. Ich möchte es riechen, anfassen und wenn das nicht geht zumindest betrachten.

Eine Frau tritt aus der Tür und schliesst sie. Wie schade, denke ich und frage sie, ob der Raum jetzt geschlossen bleibt. Wenn es mich interessiert, sie sei  in 10 Minuten wieder da, falls ich solange auf sie warten möchte.

Ich warte.
Die Frau ist Dr. Astrid Breith. Sie bittet mich herein und schliesst die Tür hinter uns.
Zielstrebig zieht sie sofort zwei Bücher aus dem Regal und legt sie vor mich hin. Ältere, in Leinen gebundene Exemplare.
Das alles hat mit dem Inhalt der Schachteln zu tun, den ich später in Augenschein und auch in die Hand nehmen darf.
Es sind keine Mittelalterlichen Schriften, sondern inzwischen auch schon in die Jahre gekommene Archivierungsnotizen und Beschreibungen. Zeugen einer anderen Zeit.

Schnell kommen wir ins Gespräch und ich steige ein in eine Exkursion in Mittelalterliches Schriftgut.

Frau Dr Breith erzählt mir, wo man die ersten Schriften fand, wer was schrieb und für wen. Immer wieder ergänzt sie Erzähltes durch Anschauungsmaterial.
Sie erzählt, dass man an manchen Orten zuerst laut gelesen hat. Als sie mir dann entsprechende Schriften zeigt, wird auch klar warum: man schrieb ohne Komma und Punkt. Nicht einmal die Worte waren durch einen Abstand voneinander getrennt. So musste man laut lesen, um den Inhalt zu verstehen.
Sie erzählte mir auch, dass der Akt des Schreibens in manchen Klöstern eine Art Meditation war. Das heisst, die Mönche murmelten den Text vor sich hin, das Ohr nahm ihn auf, er wurde durch den Körper, dem Sitz des Geistes und der Seele geleitet und floss dann durch die Hand wieder heraus. Deshalb wurde die Buchdruckerkunst wohl auch die schwarze Kunst genannt. Das war Teufelszeug, seelenlos.

Sie berichtete begeistert von aus dem Mittelalter stammenden Ritterromanen, die in der Art des Humors heutigen Romanen nicht nachstehen.

Über all das kamen wir unter anderem auf Schreibtechniken zu sprechen und landeten in der Jetztzeit. Wir begannen zu vergleichen. Z. B. tauchte die Frage, ob Texte, die heute mit Hilfe des Computers geschrieben werden qualitativ besser sind als frühere handschriftlich verfasste Texte, auf. Wie wirkt sich der Akt des Schreibens mit der Hand auf den Inhalt und die Art des Denkens aus?

Ich kam zu dem Schluss, dass wir in jeder kulturellen Epoche immer wieder vor dem gleichen Phänomen stehen. Und dieses Phänomen heisst Veränderung.
Manches verhält sich ähnlich wie in den Ritterromanen. Der Humor an sich ist der gleiche, aber die Form hat sich natürlich geändert.

Wenn es jetzt niemand gäbe, der sich um die Vergangenheit kümmert, indem er sie ausgräbt, beschreibt, benennt, katalogisiert und damit bewahrt? Dann könnten auch keine Vergleiche statt finden. Aus Vergleichen erlangen wir Erkenntnis. Anhand von Vergleichen beschreiben wir die Veränderung der Welt.

Die Welt sind in diesem Fall wir, die Menschen. Tiere und Pflanzen interessiert das nicht.

Und was hat das jetzt mit dem Medium Performance zu tun?

Beides, sowohl die mittelalterlichen Schriften als auch Performances sind Wissensträger. Sie entstanden, um etwas auszudrücken und mitzuteilen. Beiden liegt ein Akt zu Grunde, eine mit dem Körper ausgeführte Handlung. Um sie lesen zu können, muss man sich damit beschäftigen. Das sich damit beschäftigen, um es zu verstehen, ich meine wirklich zu verstehen, impliziert die Bereitschaft zumindest ein Stück weit einzutauchen. Um eintauchen zu können muss man Interesse entweder schon haben oder entwickeln.

Eine gute Methode Interesse zu entwickeln bzw. zu stillen ist zuzuhören. Auch das Fragen stellen gehört dazu. Genau das haben wir getan und genau darin sehe ich eine bezeichnende Schnittstelle zwischen Kunst und Wissenschaft.
Allerdings gehen bei den Fragen die Intentionen auseinander. Für mich als Künstlerin ist eine gefundene Frage oft schon eine Antwort, aufgespürtes Wissen, aufgedeckt, weiter entwickelt. Der Wissenschaftler hingegen muss nach einer Antwort suchen. Darin liegt sein Auftrag.

Die Gemeinsamkeit liegt im Wissen und im wissen wollen. In beiden Bereichen wird geforscht, entwickelt und beleuchtet. Im einen Bereich wird benannt was nachweisbar ist, im anderen Bereich gilt auch die Ahnung als Wissensträger.

Als Künstlerin geniesse ich die Freiheit der unwissenschaftlichen Fragestellung und winke vielleicht gerade deshalb die  Wissenschaft in noch ungedachte Wege. Erforschtes und schon Beschriebenes ist ebenso wie die vorauseilende Ahnung Quelle der Inspiration.

Memory Vessels

2 Feb
Memory Vessels
by Simona Koch
Human beings are vessels where memory and experience get collected.
In ancient times an old person was an information source of very high value, as there was no secure access for knowledge for everybody, like libraries or the internet.
Nowadays this value turned and old people supposedly might not support our today`s knowledge society – being old, as it gets conveyed through media and advertising, is something bad which we have to fight against.
But the truth is that those vessels are still filled with experiences and memories of long ago past moments – and also with knowledge which is very different from what is the state of knowledge of today.With the project INSIDEOUT those vessels will be contemplated, opened up and made accessible in an unusual way. The team has found performance artists in the four directions of Europe, who are between 50 an 70 years old. In the project these artists meet in their respective home countries and let their experiences and memories converge, interweaved with the ground where it is happening and the native people living there.With the documentation of the project in turn a new document gets produced, which preserves this output for the next generations.

Januar 2012