Via Lewandowsky



There are places where one does not applaud — in cemeteries, for example. They are places where silence is the appropriate form of showing one’s respect. Although there would be enough reasons to express posthumous recognition in front of one grave or another by putting one’s hands together. However due to the absence of applause we find it difficult to see any sense in it. If one does something using artistic means that could be called ‘out-of-place’ then an interesting result is achieved: reflection. The sound installation on Schlossplatz aims to achieve precisely this in a location that has its fill of memorable moments. The digitally created PLAUSORES (in Antiquity, highly paid professional clappers) poses the question: Why and for whom is this applause here now? The location has been cleared. Freed of buildings as a temporary meadow it is surely more of a contemplative place than it is a location worthy of an audible display of appreciation. It can only be for an absence. The absence of what was here and what will exist here. The canned applause could be intended to animate, like it animates the audience in a chat show or a sitcom, or to remind one that applause has sounded out here before for a wide variety of reasons. The ten-minute applause composition consists of two people clapping, with their different claps duplicated technically. The sound designed in this way ranges from realistic wild applause to creating an abstract acoustic setting. For the sound of clapping is among the problematic sounds, it is acoustic refuse, a disturbance. Only the context allows us to see what is happening. New associative leeway is created when sounds and their origins are chronologically and spatially separated from one another. Small deviations from the identical reproduction of a typical clap are sufficient to confuse the listener. This is exploited by the electronic composition, allowing raindrops to fall lightly, paces in goose step to march across a fictitious square or the sound of a shortwave radio signal to sound. The rhythm plays a decisive role in the acoustic guessing game here. At one point it sounds as if a Flamenco were playing, at another one imagines standing in front of the door to a typical Berlin techno club. Like this a simple clap can tell stories and show events passing before one’s eyes.
Via Lewandowsky, July 2009

Via Lewandowsky, born in Dresden, Germany in 1963, lives and works in Berlin.
Photo © Hendrik Schmidt/dpa

After almost six years and 29 multi-channelled compositions by international artists, TONSPUR für einen öffentlichen raum is opening a second venue — in times of economic crisis and despite the tightening of public funding. Under the title TONSPUR IN BERLIN — Klangarbeiten auf dem Schlossplatz zu Berlin (sound art at Schlossplatz Berlin), from 10 July 2009 works are being played for eight loudspeakers that will change quarterly, and at not just any Berlin location. So, alongside the Vienna Museumsquartier — where the work of the Berlin artist Christina Kubisch is currently playing — and for an indeterminate length of time specially produced works of sound art for a public space are to be heard and experienced in the heart of the capital city of Berlin (see text). regarding the first Berlin piece: modern and contemporary German art is also marked by the country’s past East-West split as well as its various protagonists’ origins, their birthplaces and where they worked. At a location like Schlossplatz, where the German Democratic Republic’s representative building dedicated to the people stood until recently, this must be an issue to be addressed. The Berlin TONSPUR opens with one of the most high profiled and versatile artists in Germany, Via Lewandowsky. Born in 1936 in Dresden in the GDR, where he was trained as an artist, he moved to West Berlin shortly before the reunification, where he still lives and works. His TONSPUR 30 with the beautiful because ambiguous title “Na Bravo (Encore”) is based on his own clap as well as the clapping of his neighbour Andrea Splisgar. Lewandowsky’s ten-minute piece uses sound to open up a cosmos of associations. It lends space in the form of an acoustic arena that becomes a space for reflection to what was, what is and what will be at this special location, currently a designed landscape for an undefined period of time. A worthy and impressive but also a polarising overture on this square of squares in the 20th year since Germany’s reunification. In October the work of the composer and current DAAD resident from divided Korea, Suk-Jun Kim is to follow.

We would like to thank the following for making TONSPUR IN BERLIN possible: first and foremost relais Landschaftsarchitekten, as the planners and designers of the Übergangsnutzung Schlossareal Berlin for their openness to our project. Our thanks, too, to the Senatsbauverwaltung Berlin and the Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft [DSK], to whom we are grateful for the necessary concessions that followed — as well as to Coco Kühn for having established contact in the preceding year. Our heartfelt thanks go also to the staff at Hartmann, Hunold und Tischer for the successful collaboration in situ at Schlossplatz. Above all, open and far-sighted sponsors are required, for without them such a project would never have been possible. In this context, our gratitude goes to the Arts Department at the Austrian Ministry for Education, Art and Culture [bm:ukk], who have supported the TONSPUR project since its inception in September 2003, having accompanied its development and now co-financing its launch in Berlin. One intensive discussion sufficed to raise the enthusiasm of the Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin for our project, with the result that grants were awarded for the two Austrian contributions in the first year of TONSPUR IN BERLIN by Peter Ablinger and Friederike Mayröcker. Particular thanks go to the Berlin arts programme of DAAD, which provides artist’s support, but that is also to support the project both with its reputation and its network. Our very personal thanks go to three colleagues in Berlin: Florian Wachinger for his continual encouragement and foresight; Florian Kühnle for his skill and knowhow as a sound technician in the various acoustic test sessions, as well as for his commitment in the realisation of the piece by Via Lewandowsky; Frank Paul, for his indispensible help in the exhausting assembly work at the location, in the midst of the clouds of dust swirling with the ghost of past history, as well as for the design of the new TONSPUR website, which is currently under construction. Thank you, too, to Burghard List in Vienna for the graphic design and Nickolaus Wolters in Berlin for technical support in necessity. Heartfelt thanks to Peter Szely, for helping make the decision to choose Berlin as a second venue alongside Vienna. A twofold “Here we go!” Last but not least we should like to express our gratitude to all of our artists, without whom there would be no project. Particular thanks, too, to Via Lewandowsky as the artist behind the first Berlin TONSPUR. The collaboration with you has been a whole lot of fun. It remains to be reiterated that TONSPUR now has a suitcase in Berlin. Oh joy!

Tonspur is German for soundtrack, a classical term used in talking about visual and acoustic media, and the title of a project with a programme of sound works for a public space that is new for Berlin. The white cube is to the visual arts what urban public space is for sound art — that crossover between fine art, media art and music. Schlossplatz in Berlin is just such a public space, and a special one too. In the heart of the capital of Germany, which has again developed into one of the most vibrant metropolises in Europe since the country’s reunification almost exactly 20 years ago, Schlossplatz contains pure manifestations of contemporary, urban and architectural history. Both in the current temporary use of a designed setting as well as a historically grown public square for the Berlin city palace, which is under reconstruction and to bear the name the Humboldt Forum, Schlossplatz is acquiring a visible significance that goes beyond the borders of the city itself. Like the baroque passageway in the listed Fischer von Erlach tract of the former imperial stables in Vienna — since 2002 Museumsquartier Wien and since 2003 the regular venue for TONSPUR für einen öffentlichen raum — Schlossplatz is automatically traversed on any tour of the capital between the Museumsinsel, the Lustgarten, the Spreeinsel and Alexanderplatz. Artists from around the world are developing and realising computer-controlled sound works in the TONSPUR series specially for the location, which bears witness to the chequered history of Germany and of Europe. These artists’ multi-channelled compositions go well beyond the standard stereophonic experience, creating captivating acoustic architectures and sound spaces. TONSPUR provides a substantial contribution to the already broad discussion — especially in Berlin — of sound as a sculptural and malleable raw material for contemporary art. It unites artists of different disciplines on an acoustic level while simultaneously introducing its audience to a broader notion of the reception of art and art itself. In this sense, TONSPUR für einen öffentlichen raum, in both Vienna and in Berlin, addresses everybody who encounters culture and art with their eyes and ears open.
Georg Weckwerth, July 2009

Photo Schlossplatz © Marc Raeder


  • Via Lewandowsky [D]
  • Na, Bravo (Encore), 2009
  • 8-channel composition
  • Lenght 10 min.
  • Applause by Andrea Splisgar,
  • Via Lewandowsky
  • Sound advice: Florian Kühnle
  • Technical supervision: Peter Szely, Nickolaus Wolters
  • 11.07.09–10.10.09
  • Schloßplatz Berlin/Mitte
  • Bench line between Berlin Cathedral and Academy of Music Hanns Eisler
  • Daily 8am to 10pm
  • Opening: Fr 10.07.09, 11.30am
  • Opening words:
  • Regula Lüscher [Buildings Commissioner in the department for Urban Development, Berlin]