20 Audio Images, 20 Video Views
Using the 20 texts from “Theses on the Philosophy of History” by Walter Benjamin
Fleeing from the Nazis toward Portugal, many emigrants passed along an escape route stretching over the foothills of the Pyrenees, from the French village Banyuls-sur-Mer to the Spanish city of Portbou.
On the last stage of his escape from the National Socialists, Walter Benjamin, as well, took this route. When he arrived in Portbou, the Spanish authorities refused to let him continue; he took his own life at night between September 26 and 27, 1940.
The artist Christoph Korn also walked this escape route over the Pyrenees. As tools he took along a microphone, a video camera and Walter Benjamin’s text “Theses on the Philosophy of History.”
With microphone in hand, he recorded his hike and, during the entire duration of the twelve-hour walk, periodically read the 20 texts from Walter Benjamin’s fragmentary work out loud, organized along a temporal structure.
In addition, Christoph Korn generated 20 video views, each of which is assigned to an audio image and a text. He recorded the audio images while moving, but the film sequences have an aesthetic of a camera, fixed and static. Directly after a thesis was spoken while he was walking, he recorded each of the videos “looking backwards.” They are filmic memory-images or still lives, looking back at the path already taken. This direction of the camera or of the observing subject refers to Walter Benjamin’s historical-philosophical Thesis IX and his interpretation of Paul Klee’s painting Angelus Novus. A sinus tone has been inserted into the sound track of every second film
The audio images and video views each last five minutes. The foundation of the installation is Walter Benjamin’s text in the printed version from 1942, published under the title at that time, “Reflections on the Philosophy of History,” by Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer. The ten sinus tones in the video views correspond to the first ten tones of the church hymn “Herr, ich glaube fest an Dich” [“Lord, I believe firmly in Thee”] in their tonal pitch.
The audio images will be broadcast by SWR2 [Southwestern German Radio] from April to July 2014 as a part of its radio play program. The audio images and videos will be released at each broadcast date on the web site “Remembrances” and made available to the public. The web installation will remain active after the programs have been broadcast.
The film material created during the hike was in addition to it the basis for developing a self-contained 55-minute filmic work. This work will appear as a DVD along with the audio images on Onomato Verlag [publishing house]. Double CD and DVD video will be released as an art edition in a limited series of 100. The first 30 are signed.
Installation for Audio, Video and Web by Christoph Korn
Using the 20 “historical-philosophical theses” from Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History”
Website: Stefan Hartmann, wemove digital solutions
Production: Südwestrundfunk [Southwestern German Radio]/Radio Plays
Dramaturgy/Editing: Manfred Hess
The work was made possible by scholarship from “Stiftung Kunstfonds, Bonn