Stephan von Huene | Text Tones
The complete work of Stephan von Huene: kinetic and sound sculptures, sculptures, assemblages, drawings
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Text Tones

Text Tones Baden Baden 1983
Text Tones Baden Baden 1983

photo: Michael Hoffmann

Text Tones


S 1979–3

six-piece installation
aluminum, wooden base, mechanics, lifting magnets, formerly tape
(after the technical adjustment: sensors, computer)
each 138 x 138 x 20 cm

Hamburger Kunsthalle, Galerie der Gegenwart

Baden Baden, 1983

Gottfried Sello (© HR 83)

2:22 min

Köln 1983

Gottfried Sello (© HR 83)

1:47 min

Text Tones is an installation consisting of six narrow white, painted bases on top of which aluminum tubes are mounted, each struck by a pair of small hammers installed below. Mounted on the first base is a tube of a specific length; when struck by a gong, the internal column of air vibrates at the same frequency as the tube itself.

Stephan von Huene called this the “absolute pitch” (here, he was stimulated by the story of Ling Lun, who was commissioned by the ruler Huang-Di to cut a piece of bamboo whose length would fix the suitable basic tone of the Chinese musical system).

In relation to the first piece, the pairs of tubes mounted on the other bases are either shortened or lengthened in such a way that two octaves are segmented into five intervals. The ambient noises of the exhibition space, i.e. voices, closing doors, etc., are taken up by a microphone, stored, and separated into an analog and a digital signal. These signals, which are stored on audio tape, are then played back by the sculpture.

The digital signal is divided between two little hammers, which strike the tube; the analog signal is played through a loudspeaker, and sets the air in the tube into a state of oscillation. Since both frequencies are the same, the ambient sounds of the room are reproduced in a monotone reflection. Later, the Text Tones were reworked and the mallets, originally mounted on the sides, were replaced by little hammers set beneath the tubes.

Text Tones Kunsthalle Hamburg
Text Tones Kunsthalle Hamburg

photo: Estate Stephan von Huene, ZKM, Karlsruhe

Hamburger Kunsthalle, 2000

Kamera: Dan Mihaltianu

2:11 min

Getty Talk, Text Tones 1991
Getty Talk, Text Tones 1991

photo: Elke Walford