Helga de la Motte-Haber
In the space of sound - The installations of Andreas Oldörp

... In my work, that element which gives music its temporal property, namely, the perpetual production of new tones, is brought about spatially. That is the sculptural methodology of sound:
the tones are arranged in space and the listener provides a personal chronology by physically moving through the room. The beauty of this method is that, in contrast to the "authoritarian" demands of linear music, the listener can determine the tempo. When you, the listener, decide that
a certain sound should be longer, then you can just spend more time listening to it. And when you switch to listening mode, you automatically become slower and quieter because you don't want
to disturb yourself with your own footsteps, and then you submerge ever further into this world
of sound and your ears become ever more sensitive.
That's what I create, the acoustic architecture ...

Andreas Oldörp arrived at sound as an immaterial yet malleable sculpting mass, via the visual arts. The characteristics of this substance, its density, mass, volume, colouring, energy, warmth and feel, play a decisive role in determining the artistic factor in his "acoustic architecture".
His sounds are neither technically produced nor manipulated. They are generated naturally.
Sound and sound-source are united in an intimate interaction. Oldörp position is in opposition to attempts at classifying sound-art as media-art. He does not assume that sounds have become entirely controllable, as the acoustic production - and reproduction techniques would suggest. Sounds harbour moments of unpredictability, their smoothness or coarseness determines the end result. Oldörp is in this respect comparable to a sculptor who works with wood or metal and who
is inspired by the grain or sheen of the material. Hand and brainwork determine the creative production. In view of the secondary experience inherent in the perception of the omnipresent media-art - whatever the artistic reflection involved - Oldörp wishes to convey a primary experience, giving people the opportunity to access their own perception space. Oldörp's installations are intended to be seen and heard. It would be out of the question for the artist to use anonymous sounds from loudspeakers. But the simultaneous presence of sound and sound-source does not impose strict coordination.

We do not always hear what we see and see what we hear, even in everyday life. Our sensory organs function rather through complex simultaneous integration processes. Oldörp likes to disturb the automatism inherent in these functions. A continuous and delicate web of sound, in which the harmonics tend to gain independence, is produced, for instance, with the help of organ pipes driven by bellows. It fills the room with overlapping waves or runs along the wall. It becomes difficult to localise the origin of the sounds. If the tones are generated by the spasmodic cooling of steam, then the room is filled with an erratic whispering or prattling. Oldörp's singing flames generate non- localisable sounds that can suddenly surface far away from the original source. The wavelength peaks and troughs, which occur as a consequence of resonance and interference, allow the visitor to go on an acoustic ramble.
In the last decades, science has been largely concerned with time problems, whereas artistic works have intensified the question of space and its perception. Musicians no longer place their tones in
a purely metrical-temporal scheme on the score but also position them around the concert hall through the dislocation of instrument groups. Visual artists created sounding objects that dissolved their own perimeters or they installed sound sources in corners, on pillars or in landscapes, which not only lent the respective location event-character, but also transformed the spatial structure through the presence of artificial sound-apparatus.

Andreas Oldörp initially distinguishes between two spatial forms in his works, out of which a third form has been developed in recent times. To start with, we will deal with the self-contained room.

To plan sounds for interior rooms means initially to optically accentuate the environment with the sound apparatus, rather like a painter would do with colour or a collector with pictures and other ornamentation. On the acoustic level, however, Oldörp's rooms - immersed in dynamic sound textures or soaked in a web of sound - convey impressions of distance and proximity, which run contrary to the visual aspect. The static nature of the room is dissolved in sound. Space is experienced as an intersection of optical and acoustic impressions and changes according to the relative position of the viewer.
Oldörp makes us conscious of the fact that space is something imperceptibly abstract, a mutating entity that we can only experience sensorially from one specific location. Outside influences also play a role. The sounds' characteristics are, to a certain degree, dependant on the weather conditions, the number of visitors as well as the temperature and humidity of the room.

Oldörp's structured hearing rooms do not intend to be music. They mean to convey a three dimensional impression, at least, which is not defined by the visual. The perception of space that we rely upon in our everyday existence is superseded by a complex web of optical and acoustic information. The complexity of the room, which is impossible to grasp with mere terminology, is indicated in the integration of volume and distance estimates, the perception of one's own position, the brightness, the resonances and the zones of warmth. It becomes clear that spatial experience
is a product of the interplay between haptic, kinaesthetic, acoustic and optic perception.

A second form of room construction is evident in the works designed for parks or landscapes.
In these cases, the sound sources do not fill entire rooms, but create rooms around themselves
or delineate areas along a path. Oldörp has previously used this principle sporadically in his interior works, but it is only of late that he has deliberately developed it into a self-sufficient third form: Delicate pieces of furniture: an old bedside table or another small kitchen-table from the 60s are used in a sculptural context; gaining an acoustic extension and a new significance through the employment of organ pipes and cleverly hidden bellows.

For over 110 years sculptors have been trying to find an open form which would enable the viewer to interact. Umberto Boccioni tried to lend his works a charisma that filled the gallery, making it impossible for the viewer to escape its force. Auguste Rodin produced sculptures without a plinth that were on eye level with the viewer, as if they were conversation partners. Eduardo Chillida designed his works so that their vibrations, like music, could be felt around the room. His objects gained their intrinsic meaning through the interplay of the plastic with the surrounding space. Andreas Oldörp's installations are a continuation of these thoughts. They best representation of this idea is a sound installation which physically vibrates in space instead of just metaphorically.
The room is stimulated and the visitor, who has no other choice than to be immersed, is challenged to add a subjective structure. One can understand Andreas Oldörp's works in terms of this tradition. On his way to this point, however, the artist took a detour.

This can be demonstrated by one of Oldörp's earlier works. It is one that he seldom mentions and
it is not listed in his works catalogue . The artists exhibited himself, cloaked in a transparent plastic pipe and surrounded by pig's eyes that were staring at him. One can interpret this work as an example of performance art critical of an art business in which the artist's name is the primary selling factor. It is also representative of the 1970's and 80's trend in which artists - like Vito Acconci and Abramovic/Ulay, for instance - presented their own bodies as central themes. Theatrical forms also started to seep into fine art at this time. The artist used the exhibition space as a stage. This short, but historically important movement has had an important influence on installation art. A consequence of this trend to self-exhibition was that it increasingly caused disquiet, and artists began to feel obliged to leave more space for the audience. This diversion via performance art to a new form of sculptural interpretation was typical of artists who used sound as a basis for filling space. Their discourse with performance activities was the possible catalyst for the employment of sound as an interactive material.

The image of the creative subject was altered, with the artist partially transferring responsibility for the art-space to the audience. Imagination and creativity have not become secondary due to the surrender of the strictly bipolar distinction between aesthetic object and its beholder, but they have become prerequisites for an artistic construction that is concluded by the audience. The beholder is not confronted with an expression-saturated form representing an ideal reality, but instead, ways of indicating a reality are created, making use of an artificial presentation to create the preconditions for investigative audience participation. The visitors, however - having been stripped of the usual exterior vantage point - are made to feel uncertain and are confronted not only by the inherent issues of art, but also challenged by anthropological and self-referential questions. Andreas Oldörp talks of "tuned spaces" in reference to his works. This is clearly an allusion to the tuning of an instrument, but also to the atmosphere of the iridescent sound textures, which are capable of provoking a thoughtful or meditative disposition, or, in the case of a whispering web of sporadic sound, can lead to sudden thought-free silences. These works demand more than an exclusively erudite interpretation. They occasion the perception of one's own position - an introspection that needs no expression, or, perhaps, that cannot be communicated.