Astrid Rieder trans-Art

trans-Art Analysis


trans-Art is a real-time dialogue between two or more artists. It breaks through arts’ conventional boundaries and so enables a deeper understanding and reception of abstract art on several layers. A trans-Art performance connects at least two different art genres, usually visual arts and contemporary music (which has been an essential part since 1993). trans-Art performances can also contain dance, acrobatics or prose (see the “do trans-Art 08” with Sam Beklik). Although the artists prepare the basic structure of the performance, the dialogue emerges spontaneously and will depend on e.g. the room atmosphere. Based on her background as visual artist and lover of contemporary music, Astrid Rieder began first trans-Art experiments in the 1990s. Since then, she has developed the trans-Art genre and the Composition Graphique Musicale (the name for the three-part result of a trans-Art performance).

Analysis of the trans-Art Performance

At a trans-Art performance, a visual and an acoustic artist together build a dialogue between the arts. For the visual part of the performance, a big sheet of paper is hung on the wall that the audience faces (the so-called paper canvas). The paint, pens and markers lie next to it. If it is not possible to draw directly on the wall, the visual artist sits at a table, on which a sketch-pad and markers lie. A camera  films the drawing process, which at the same time is projected onto the wall. In either case, the drawing process is clearly visible for both the musician and the audience.

The paint and colors are chosen specifically for each trans-Art performance, so as to prevent an artist's signature on the drawing. The dialogue between the artists creates an identity, not the signature. Sometimes, the color choice remains monochrome, as e.g. with the “do trans-Art 06” with Hans Wolf. At every performance, the sound artist sits diagonally behind the canvas with their medium (instrument, electronics, typewriter). The duration of the performance varies, but is usually around 30-40min.

The basic structure of each trans-Art performance is set, but it remains open where the art goes from there. The artists open the performance together and therefore have to exchange first ideas before the performance. Usually, this happens in an informal talk. There is no rehearsal, so as to keep the connotations filled with tension. With the first moment of the performance, the artists enter a multidirectional dialogue, in which the different genres meet as equals. They leave the traditional forms of performance and enter a freely associative space.  Abstract lines, forms and sounds interact, extend and complement each other. The artists show respect and trust for each other during the performance, they observe and react. It becomes clear that they do not separate their arts. On the contrary, the audience sees how the artists listen to each other and build a shared space for dialogue, in which points and counterpoints coexist. It is a dialogue where music and drawing together become more than the sum of their parts. The visual artist might even draw over already existing shapes. This way, the image continues to evolve in different forms throughout the performance. The music will proceed sequentially, and past and future will only shortly influence it.

As in an interpersonal, constructively led dialogue, reaction and development of the performance cannot be predicted by the two protagonists. There will be moments where the perception will differ between the two. Nonetheless the tension remains and a shared aesthetic arises for the audience and the artists. These observations intensify the perception of abstract art, which might not be as accessible for everyone otherwise. Shapes can be recognized more easily and perceived more strongly, all senses are stimulated.

During the trans-Art performance, the so-called Composition Graphique Musicale, consisting of three parts, is created: (1) an acoustic part, (2) a visual part, and (3) a documentation video. The acoustic part consists of a sequential sound experience and includes all room sounds, the music, the drawing sounds and more. You can hear it on the monthly radio broadcast. The visual part includes the drawing, which keeps to emerge in additive processes throughout the performance. To document the entire work of the dialogue with all its processes, the performance is also filmed in a video.

For the visual part, it is possible to use many paints and colors: black pens, hard and soft pencils, charcoal pencils, black crayon, different pastel chalks and wet paint. On the paper canvas, drawing and painting elements can meet. Acrylic and KRINK paint are used. The latter is based on paint with great opacity and indicates the dialogue's closing note.

The Composition Graphique Musicale is not a total work of art, but a game, an experience and deepening of perception.

Robert C. Bauer's thoughts on this topic capture this well:

(Traditionelle) Musik hat in der Regel eine zielgerichtete zeitliche Dynamik, einen Anfang und ein Ende - bildende Kunst hat dies nicht. Ein Bild "ist" - ein Musikstück muss stets wieder aufs Neue erst "werden". trans-Art begreife ich somit in erster Linie als den Versuch, die Faszination des "Werdens" in der Musik auf die Malerei zu übertragen, indem der zeitliche Prozess des Malens selbst zur Musik inszeniert wird. Wichtig ist keineswegs der Ist-Zustand des am Ende "fertigen" Bildes, sondern allein der Vorgang seiner Entstehung - schließlich ist die Musik am Ende auch nicht mehr wirklich da, sondern existiert nur mehr als Erinnerung.

(Traditional music usually has a time-dependent dynamic, a beginning and an end – visual arts do not. A drawing „is“ – a piece of music has to „become“ every time. So I see trans-Art above all as trying to take the fascination of “becoming” to the visual arts by connecting the time-bound process of drawing to music. Not the final state of being a drawing is important, but the process of becoming. After all, the music does not really exist at the end any more, but remains only a memory.)


Performance of the audience

A special form of trans-Art is the performance of the audience. As the name promises, the audience is then invited to actively participate in the artistic process. Every participant receives a board (a resonance body), paper and pencils, to freely express one's impressions. This way, the audience becomes an active part of the dialogue, everybody a contributor to the ensemble of trans-Art. The musician cannot react to the shapes that are being drawn everywhere in the room, and so the dialogue happens on another level: using microphones, the audience's drawing sounds are recorded and intensified. The audience receives their own voice next to the music.

Because the musician usually plays an already existing work, the artistic process is unidirectional in this case. However, there might be bidirectional moments, such as happened e.g. during the “do trans-Art 08” with the hornist Dominik Gruber.

The performance of the audience has several goals. On the one hand, it is a try to open the reception of trans-Art to people. On the other hand, the audience should get their own voice and become active instead of passive recipients of contemporary music. Contemporary music is the music of today, telling the social situations of humans, religions, entities, paces and more.

Auch wenn Robert C. Bauer sagte, er denke beim Komponieren nicht an polarisierende Politiker, bin ich der Meinung, dass sich der Zustand seines persönlichen Habitats sehr wohl in seinem musikalischen Denken abbilden werde.  Ja - ich gehe sogar so weit, dass sich trans-Art aus dieser gesellschaftlichen Situation heraus gebildet hat. Kunst ist ein sozio-kulturelles Phänomen. - Astrid Rieder

(Although Robert C. Bauer says that he does not think about polarizing politicians when composing, I do believe that the state of one’s personal environment comes back in his musical thinking. Yes – I even go as far as to say that trans-Art developed from this societal situation. Art is a socio-cultural phenomenon.)

III. The History of trans-Art

trans-Art is an art genre of the now, which slowly developed from Astrid Rieder's extensive work.

The first steps were taken in the 1990s already, when Astrid Rieder participated in Wolfgang Seierl's (composer and painter in Vienna) visual art course  in St. Virgil. There, she painted unidirectionally to the sounds of Morton Feldman and John Cage. This was followed by further participation in courses in the Gemacherhaus attic (behind the Salzburg Dome).

From 1996 to 2006, Astrid Rieder organized house concerts, which enabled first interdisciplinary experiences. Contemporary music, lectures, film productions and much more were presented. At the same time, Astrid Rieder participated in the international summer academy for visual arts on the Salzburg fortress (teachers: Xenia Hausner, Hella Berenth) and followed Johannes Ziegler's courses in Salzburg from 2000 to 2006.

With her move to a new studio in the Techno-Z in Itzling, a new era of interdisciplinary studio concerts began in 2007: first, they were organized in the studio, but were moved to the big event hall because of the large interest. Until 2010, the studio concerts took thus place in Itzling, and after the move to the Künstlerhaus in 2011, in the Künstlerhaus’ Großer Saal. The low threshold made contemporary music and interdisciplinary art – the now called trans-Art - accessible for a broad audience (peak attendance 2011: 180 guests!).

2013, Astrid decided to sharpen the concept of the studio concert and to choose one theme on which the protagonists and their performances were selected. This way, she could concentrate better on her own work and do more trans-Art performances and tours. By following a course on music theory by Christian Ofenbauer at the Mozarteum, she further expanded her theoretical knowledge about arts.

Now, trans-Art is a known concept which is made accessible for each and every one through regular events, such as the “do trans-Art” series. Astrid Rieder also works and performs trans-Art in her studio in Vienna. On the Perner Insel (Hallein), in a talk with Maurin Donneaud (French media artist), Astrid Rieder developed the later refined term Composition Graphique Musicale for the art work created during a trans-Art performance.