Contemporary art in the Abbey library

bios [bible], 2007/2010

robotlabThose entering the Abbey library during the PLAY ADMONT . regionale10 exhibition in 2010 would have found themselves, much to their surprise, confronted by a massive industrial robot. Equipped with a quill, this machine was busy for several months writing the whole of the New Testament on an extensive roll of paper. Rather like a medieval monk in a monastery scriptorium, the robot gradually produced each line of calligraphy with meticulous precision. The imposing bulk of the robot, its movements and the sounds it produced were designed to inspire visitors to interpret them in their own way and evoke speculation concerning what can now actually be achieved and the possibility of a future world in which humans and machines together produce culture.

Bibliothek robotlabbios [bible] was an installation of Robotlab, an informal group of artists (Matthias Gommel, Martina Haitz, Jan Zappe) formed in 2000 that is affiliated with the Institute of Image Media at the Karlsruhe Centre for Art and Media (ZKM). The core themes of bios [bible] are faith and technical progress. The installation brings together two of the fundamental aspects of western societies: Christian belief and scientific rationalism. In this context, the medium of writing plays a special role as it is used both to document Holy Scripture and record knowledge.

‘Basic input output system’ (bios) is a computing term that is used to designate the component that coordinates the interaction of hard drive and software and thus provides the essential, indispensable operating system that first allows computers to start up and process information. It thus represents that basic program, the initial causative script, on which all subsequent programs build.

The paper roll with the script produced by the installation in the library was subsequently added to the collection of Admont Abbey.

Constanze Ruhm
blindstorey, 2003

Bibliothek Constanze Ruhm, blindstoreyblindstorey was part of the ‘Made for Admont’ series created for the ‘BEYOND SEEING – Art that brings together the blind and sighted’ collection.

blindstorey tells of cinema, of silence, memories and blindness. The German composer Otto Kränzler has written three contemporary compositions based on sampled sound bites representing acoustic residues and atmospheres, the interpolated spaces between sounds and silences from three films that deal in one way or another with the subject of blindness (Wait Until Dark [USA 1967, Terence Young], Night on Earth [USA 1991, Jim Jarmusch], Until the End of the World [USA 1991, Wim Wenders]).

These compositions represent acoustic maps that make it possible to navigate, present and recompose the multiple interactions of silence, ellipsis, interruption, sound and atmosphere that are the auditory footprints of the selected films. Another focus of blindstorey is the Baroque architecture of the library at Admont Abbey, which contains seven allegorical trompe l’oeuil ceiling frescos painted in 1775/1776 by the artist Bartolomeo Altomonte The blind French author Claire Bartoli (renowned for her textual notes to the published soundtrack of Jean-Luc Godard’s film Nouvelle Vague [F/I 1993]), narrates her experiences as a blind movie-goer. Visual memories, recalled and (re)worked fragments of images and sounds are interwoven within seven short texts that tell of light and darkness, remembrance and projection and the various sensory experiences associated with sound and sight.

Produced in collaboration with: Fareed Armaly and Otto Kränzler

Text: Claire Bartoli

Virtual modelling: Franz Schubert, 2003

Heribert Friedl
No title (Made for Admont), 2007
Scent coating on boards, various dimensions

Bibliothek Friedl (Platzhalter)In 2007, Admont Abbey Museum was the venue for the exhibition Ich fühle was, was du nicht siehst. Kunst zum Begreifen [I feel something you can’t see – Sensing art]. The work contributed by Heribert Friedl took the form of a subtle intervention in the library hall of Admont Abbey. At the time, the library was still undergoing restoration although it remained accessible for visitors. The artist mounted the coated boards he had created on the scaffolding there in a concept that was reduced to the essentials so that it conformed to the construction site conditions in the library. The intention was also to ensure that the installation attracted as little visual attention as possible.
Heribert Friedl consistently and deliberately downplays optical effects in his works. Here, he was more concerned with what the visitors could smell ‒ the odour to which they were exposed ‒ rather than with what they could see. The mounted ‘blank’ boards were coated with an aromatic substance the scent of which was released when they were scratched.

Also provided as part of the installation were scratch-n-sniff cards with a printed scent on their gold-coloured side. The gold colour made reference to the location of the installation ‒ the Baroque Abbey library. The cards were designed so the scent would remind visitors of the work itself while the gold colour would invoke the effect of the magnificent room ‒ visitors were thus able to take a little bit of the original home with them.

The odour used was that of incense.