21. February 2020

The Rhythm of the Light

[Translate to English:] Inhabit #2

The artist deals with the specific sound world of fireworks (Photo: Lea Letzel).

German media artist and theater scholar Lea Letzel arrived at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in February 2020 as the second artist in residence of INHABIT. She succeeds Danish sound artist Alexander Tillegreen, who was here from September to January. In her work, Letzel develops interdisciplinary formats in sound, music, and the visual arts. In particular she focuses on the form of the concert, investigating conventions of live performance and how they came about.

Letzel will work with systems of notation during her time in Frankfurt. Using notation—understood as instructions for performance—she will engage the relationship between visual arts and music. This engagement is reflected in her ongoing project on the fireworks notations of Japanese chemist and pyrotechnician Takeo Shimizu. In the mid-1960s, Shimizu developed a notation system for fireworks based on conventional musical notation.

Letzel, who is herself a pyrotechnician, began her project while at the Goethe Institute in Kyoto; and she will continue it at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in cooperation with researchers here, including music ethnologist Lara Pearson. Letzel explains why she chose this particular form of notation: 

“I am particularly interested in the relationship between sounds and fireworks. If you look at them closely, you can find some unexpected similarities: Both, for example, expire in the moment of their creation.” 

In mid-May 2020, INHABIT will welcome its third resident artist, the Brazilian sound artist and musicologist Pedro Oliveira.

INHABIT is the artist-in-residence program of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt. Launched in September 2019, INHABIT provides an opportunity for artists to explore aesthetic effects in conjunction with their own practice, thus expanding the Institute’s undertaking beyond the humanities and natural sciences. At the end of the year, works by the resident artists will be presented to the public in an exhibition in Frankfurt.

More about INHABIT here.