trans-Art Analysis


trans-Art is a real-time dialogue between two or more artists. It breaks through conventional boundaries between different genres of art and 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 art 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 07” with Sam Beklik). The artistic dialogue emerges spontaneously, yet artists prepare the basic structure of the performance beforehand. For example, trans-Art performances usually last around 40 minutes, builds on mutual inspiration, bidirectional actions, abstract additive drawing, as well as concrete and abstract sounds of contemporary music. Additionally, the atmosphere on the day as well as societal topics will influence the performance. These could be climate change, exclusion, political discrimination or polarization.


Based on her background as visual artist and deep appreciation for contemporary music, Astrid Rieder began first trans-Art experiments and house concerts in the 1990s. Later, the studio concerts followed. In July 2016, she has developed the trans-Art genre and the Composition Graphique Musicale. It is based on the concept of a dialogue between contemporary music and abstract drawing, which is continuously and interactively modulating during the trans-art performance. The final product is the large-scale drawing, the recorded video and the sound recording. 

I. Analysis of the trans-Art Performance

At a trans-Art performance, a visual and an acoustic artist build a real-time dialogue between the arts together. For the visual part of the performance, a big sheet of paper is hung on the wall which the audience faces (the so-called paper canvas). The selected paint, pens and markers lie next to it. If it is not possible to draw directly on the paper 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, to prevent a specific 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 (or several) sound artist with their medium (instrument, electronics, typewriter...) is placed diagonally behind the canvas. The duration of the performance varies but is mostly around 30-40min.


The basic structure of each trans-Art performance is fixed, but it remains open where the art goes from there. It is up to chance who of the two artist starts the performance. Before each trans-Art performance, Astrid Rieder interviews the participating other artist. The interview is part of the radio show with the music recording and helps the artists to get to know each other before the show, but also adds information for the radio audience. There is no rehearsal, to keep the connotations filled with tension. With the first moment of the performance, the artists enter a bidirectional dialogue, in which the different genres meet as equals. They leave the traditional forms of performance and a freely associative act emerges.  Abstract lines, forms and sounds interact, extend and complement each other. The artists so 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 room 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.


As in an interpersonal, constructively led dialogue, reaction and development of the performance cannot be predicted by the two protagonists. The basis is trust – “Trust is the oasis of the heart, where the oasis of the thinking will never arrive”, says philosopher OTIS. 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.


Through this intensive dialogue and the individual confrontation with new music within the mutual experience, the audience is confronted with the immediate present and future. OTIS: “To do history means to look for traces in desert sand, which has long been blown away by the wind of life. […] Many gaze into the past, few look towards the future.” But trans-Art encourages both the audience and the artists to go against these tendencies and to face the future.


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. It is included in the radio show "Atelier für neue Musik/trans-Art" and is always available on the internet archive CBA (Cultural Broadcasting Archive). The visual part includes the drawing, which keeps emerging 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 paint and KRINK paint is used. The latter is based on paint with great opacity and shows the dialogue's closing note.

II. 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 piece of 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. 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, which breaks traditional forms and expands sounds. Through this novelty and the break with tradition and requirements, contemporary music can mirror societal topics: social situations, religions, entities, and many other developments, encounters and changes.  

III. The History of trans-Art

trans-Art is an art genre of the present, 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, today the Baron Schwarzenberg Saal).


From 1996 to 2006, Astrid Rieder organized house concerts, which enabled first interdisciplinary experiences (highlight 2006: 74 people in the living room). 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.


Through 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. This performance series takes place on every second Thursday of each month since July 2016.  Astrid Rieder also works and performs trans-Art in her studio in Vienna. Since the closing event of the Schmiede 2016, the Composition Graphique Musicale remains as a result after each performance. On the Perner Insel (Hallein), in a talk with Maurin Donneaud (French media artist), Astrid Rieder developed the later refined term Composition graphique. After a studio visit of Beatrix Zobl, this name was expanded to Composition graphique musicale.