Rolf Julius - Black listens to red

round - rounded
oval (between oval and round)

about notation

Round, becoming more round from the lower left towards the upper right, at one section even shaping a circle's segment: The round becomes more and more round if one concentrates solely on its shape and blinks at it. Looking at the round shape we discover, its rim isn't regulary smooth and sharp, like we expect it from the letter «o». There is no section of the round with perfectly sharp rims. The rims a far away from having this high quality, they are rough, blurred, enlarged or rugged. Sometimes, there are more than one rim-line, they run in top of each other and might change from black into a dark, vague grey, which is emphasized by the inner shape's dominant black.
And even inner shape does not establish a homogeneous black, as might be expected from a printed form. Like with the rims, monotony has been avoided by purpose. Instead, differentiation and joy has been admitted to the shape-determining black, created my slightest changes in color.

I need to mention the form's size. Emotional changes of the viewer's perception as well as of the medium itself can occur if the round covers the paper half way, then occupy the paper almost completely, and so on. Also, the round's direction - sometimes slightly shifted, sometimes tending towards oval - will change the form's reading.
I am using the word «reading» on purpose, because a printed round as described usually fits into the context of fine art and it is perceived as a work of abstract - or, more precisely: concrete art. Perhaps one looks at the rims without judging - what I personally prefered. Let's leave the traditional ways of experience and understand these round forms as variable signs, which can be decoded and read, not like words of a known language, but like signs of a foreign alphabet, or a unfamiliar way of musical notation being specialized in describing a form's boundary, translating variations of color and deviations from a given standard into a language and afterwards into sounds and music, which is translating into a musical language. This language needs to be learned anew.
While studying this language one will discover that its rules, its grammar, even its vocabulary can't be described precisely.
We might find a slight similarity to Japanese, a language, that - unlike western languages - offers different ways of understanding. To quote a metaphor from that culture:
This language is like a full moon, which, when a typhoon is approaching, establishes a round, foggy halo. I'm getting back to the forms. I imagine possibly sixty prints of round, oval, almost black forms on Korean paper of 30 by 40 cm, framed and in random order fixed on a white, neutral wall. Some forms show certain similarities, some prints look alike or almost alike, they differ only in slightest shifts towards the top or towards the left or right. And then there are the exceptions, forms fitting into no schema and therefore attract attention. They determine the score's structure - I am calling the area of prints score by now - they are outstanding symbols, and, speaking in terms of music notation, they establish something like a second voice of the musical text. Transfered to the piano's keyboard, they are the loud, but so more sensitive low pitched sounds.
The score leaves lots of freedom to interpretation, which makes the perfomer even more bear the responsibility of following
the musical text precisely. That way, each concert turns into a new and fresh performance which does not deny its origin in a score not fixed by conventional means.
A slightly from left towards right towards an almost black round, carrying a Japanese moon's foggy rims, sounds different than a concert pitch.

Julius, March 2005

Translated by Volker Straebel

The text was wirtten for the performance of Aki Takahashi during the exhibition by Rolf Julius at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in 2001 and was first published in MaerzMusik, Festspiele für aktuelle Musik, program book, Berlin: Berliner Festspiele, March 16 -26 2006, p. 101-103.




On the occasion of the exhibition Black listens to red,

  the gallery Cortex Athletico is delighted to announce

the inauguration of the permanent room

Archives Rolf Julius


Rooms of Stillness

I long thought about how one can create rooms where one can withdraw and find rest, where one can see, hear and concentrate, where one is shut off from the external world and yet takes part in it. They should be simple, empty rooms that create an ambience of stillness with the aid of art or music or both together.

I seek rooms that can be hidden, in private apartments, in public buildings, they can be in the cellar or solitary in a forest, at a lake, or in the loud city. They should be scattered everywhere: in Berlin, where I live, in Tokyo, Los Angeles, or New York, the whole world could be spanned with an ever-tighter net of such zones of calm, practically with little artistic ecological niches for us.

One should have access to them at certain times and be able to enter them alone. In my opinion, the mere idea that quiet zones in fact exist can help to calm this world down. Rooms of Stillness are not necessarily acoustically still; they can, on the contrary, be loud; thus they are quiet in in a higher sense. In the Society for Current Art in Bremen, at the beginning of the year I took the first step toward such a room. Chamber Music No. 1 was the title: a small room empty except for two white rectangular columns surmounted by loudspeakers. The loudspeakers were angled toward the the middle of the room, in front of them was a chair where one could sit down and, with the music at one's back, look through the windows at the Weser Bridge with all its traffic and the river. In this case, music was very important, so important that one was not supposed to concentrate on it, which is the reason why one could look out the window. The music from the two loudspeakers met at the listener?s neck, and he felt it precisely there. I'm thinking of more such rooms, some without windows, rooms with only one work: a floating plate of iron, for example, that seems to float through the music, calmly floating..

I'm thinking of rooms into which one can withdraw alone, rooms that create an ambience of stillness, but not stupid stillness.. how should I put it.. active stillness, a kind of state of suspension, stillness.

There are several works I could entrust to such rooms, simple texts perhaps, or yellow and blue pigments or loudspeakers that breathe..

Rolf Julius, 1987