The Austrian media theorist Peter Weibel, director of the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, thinks the media, performance and music event donaufestival is the best in Austria (runs until this Sunday, May 4. Click here to check out the upcoming program!): “It’s cutting edge.” I met him in the picturesque city of Krems (one hour by car from Vienna) right before his performance “The Origin Of Noise – The Noise Of Origin” in the Minorite Church. Watch the video interview to learn more about Peter Weibel’s sympathy for political activism, and his show without the legendary Hotel Morphila Orchestra (which was booked but canceled) but with a lot of digital media art, 3D visuals, and NOISE…
(for reading the subtitles it’s best to watch the video in full screen mode)
93 38 654 – was the number one had to dial to listen to the song “Sex in der Stadt” (Sex in the City) by Hotel Morphila Orchestra. This was in 1982. Back then the band’s new LP “Schwarze Energie” (Black Energy) was presented in a phone box in Vienna’s city center – probably the smallest album release ever. “It was an anticipation of download,” maintains the orchestra’s mastermind Peter Weibel, who recently spoke with the Austrian newspaper “Die Presse“. It was the same interview in which he put the coming reunion of the Hotel Morphila Orchestra at the donaufestival in Krems into question. “Basically I don’t need the orchestra for my project… In my opinion, it’s too nostalgic and sentimental.” Peter Weibel wanted to emphasize that he is still progressive, like he has always been since the 1960s when he was working with the Viennese Actionists. This sort of disrespect was too much for the orchestra. Shortly before the performance in Krems they canceled their show. Weibel tried to soften his statement, but in the end he had to do the show without the band.
Together with his team of programmers, sound and visual engineers from the ZKM, he tried to approach the topic of noise as the sound of the universe. It was an impressive mixture of electronic sounds, 3D visuals, performance, and science. No doubt – even if Weibel is celebrating his 70th birthday next year – he is still an artist on the cutting edge. In the 1960s he was one of the first artists working with video. Now it’s the life in the digital age that determines his work… and he still is political. In earlier days he acted against the prude Austrian society. Nowadays it’s corruption in Austrian politics that rankles him.
Peter Weibel (1944*, Odessa/Ukraine) – artist, curator, media theorist
He grew up in Upper Austria and studied mathematics in Vienna, where he also got in touch with Viennese Actionism. In the 1960s he did a lot of legendary public performances like the “Tapp- und Tastkino” together with Valie Export or the famous event “Kunst und Revolution” (Art and Revolution) at the University of Vienna. In 1978 he founded the Hotel Morphila Orchestra together with musician Loys Egg. Since 1984 he is teaching new media at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. In the 1990s he curated the Ars Electronica in Linz and the Austrian pavilion at Venice Biennale. In 2008 he was the curator of the biennial in Seville. In 2011 he curated the biennial in Moscow. Since 1999 he has been the director of the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Nowadays there is no need for dialing a phone number to listen to Sex in the City – we have YouTube!