The aesthetics of notation

The aesthetics of notation


Notations are always translations. Scribbled notes, photographs, formulae or curves are there to pin down something transitory, they are meant to materialise something that has yet to exist or which won’t exist much longer. The exhibition is not limited to notation in the strict sense of musical notation or architectural floor plans, which are intended to guarantee that a piece of music can be performed again and again exactly it was intended, or a building can be serially. Essentially this exhibition turns the relationship between notation and production on its head: the sketch, the aide memoire, the floor plan or the score no longer serve a greater project: mostly they rise to become the main site of focus in and of themselves. If and how the things on the paper can be realised at all, often had to go through a trial stage first. In the 1930s for instance, Oskar Fischinger made ornamental drawings not only on the film itself but also onto the magnetic soundtrack of his films and thereby created music. The musician Iannis Xenakis worked together with Le Corbusier for the World Fair of 1958 to create the Philips Pavilion as a multimedia installation avant la lettre, and developed an exterior form for the pavilion that followed the curves of sound. And Walter Benjamin’s virtually indecipherable drawing system of coloured circles and squares which he used to structure his notes on “Arcades Project” shows clearly that a work of art does not take form inside one’s head but from working it out on bits of paper.

–Originally appeared in German in Texte zür Kunst, Issue 73, March 2009.


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