Schallplatte/Plattenbau Project description

In German the word "Platte" is colloquially used for vinyl record as well as for buildings made from prefabricated concrete slabs (which are very typical for communist functional building and characterize nearly every skyline of Europe's former communist cities) - in the following referred to as "Plattenbau". Based on this, connections between the two terms shall be found or established. Evidently, there already is a connection, for the record, as well as the Plattenbau, originate in modernity and both terms describe urban phenomena.

 

Sound Installation

For one, a vinyl record (more precisely: vinyl- PVC- duplates) with the title "Platte" and four tracks has been pressed in a limited edition.

The A-side consists of a recording realized by using a digital application, which reads out aloud a typed text. The computer voice speaks about the history of the Plattenbau and their construction. A particular emphasis lies on the housing policy of the former GDR, the difficulties or perception of the Plattenbau is also addressed. Due to the complexity of the lyrics, which may be acoustically difficult to understand because of the additional digital alienation, they are attached to the record as an A3 booklet. There is an image of a Plattenbau on the back of the booklet, which can also serve as a poster. The digital voice is preferred to an organic one, because the analogue medium record is extremely popular in the circle of electronic DJs, where you could assume that it has a revival. Hence, the antagonism analogue-digital is of great importance.

The B-side refers to Sido's (a Hip Hop Artist from Berlin) track "Mein Block", where he deals with or interprets his youth in a Plattenbau settlement using the medium of German Hip Hop and foul language. A juvenile, living in a Viennese Plattenbau settlement, newly interpreted the track. In the course of the mutual work a completely new number was written, whereby the choice of artistic means has been left to the young person (Oz). The second track is a professional remix by the musician Skape. The recording of the same piece in another version hints at the common remix culture and remix records of contemporary DJs and producers. The third track was written by juveniles from a Plattenbau settlement themselves (GFS Rec.). Hereby, the negative role appointed by the media to the inhabitants of such Plattenbau settlements, who often have a migrant or socially weak background, shall be overcome and an artistic reinterpretation by non-locals (perhaps even from a different genre) shall take place (see remix techniques of various music productions).

# The Audio Installation was shown at Yo Mama, Kunstverein Niederoesterreich in 2001

Film

A film (title: Frozen Music) visually accompanies the sound installation.

The shoot was conducted in Berlin. In Germany the first buildings in the panel construction method already evolved in the interwar years (Berlin Lichtenberg). Amongst others, the German art and architecture movement "Bauhaus" was crucial therefore. After World War II the Plattenbau has particularly spread in Eastern Germany (keyword: industrial house building). Due to the strong connection of (Eastern) Berlin and the Plattenbau it was essential to the project to shoot in Berlin.

At first the Plattenbau was regarded as an example of modern domestic culture and tagged with buzzwords such as industrialization, world of machines, and rationalism. These terms are also related to the so-called "mechanic music" such as techno/minimal, which, for obvious reasons, originated from the dreary industrial center Detroit.

Shoot:
Various Plattenbau settlements in Berlin were recorded from the outside, the stylistics are strongly influenced by the genre of the so-called "minimal film". On one hand I am working with this method since some time (very static recordings, reduced plot, on the intersection of film and photography) and on the other hand, this again provides a connection to music, more precisely to minimal techno, which celebrates monotonous compositions, which are suddenly interrupted by variations of sound, in a reduced tempo, or "minimal house" which is also characterized by reduced tempo and a gradual composition is achieved by few elements. Various static camera angles of Plattenbau are then strung together in the film. The music theme discloses another connection between the terms record (Schallplatte) and Plattenbau. A speaker talks in an essayistic manner about the common ground of architecture and film. Furthermore, a sound layer was produced for the film in collaboration with the artist and musician Manuel Knapp.

Sangam Sharma

Independent artist and experimental filmmaker.

Born in Vienna/Austria (*1978).