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Kulturnetz Frankfurt e.V. presents: International SoundArtFestival

Gallus-Theater, Frankfurt am Main 2009 / A film by Bernhard Bauser

Joerg Piringer (A), Ansuman Biswas (GB), Dirk Huelstrunk (G), Sianed Jones (GB), Nye Parry (GB), Jaap Blonk (NL)


The festival “Playing with Words – Live” presents six internationally renowned artists who put voice and spoken word into the center of their performance. Listen to sound poetry, Celtic world music, electronically processed voices, or hear about the fascinating Indian rhythm language “Konnakol”.


All artists create interdisciplinary work between poetry, music, dance, visual arts and science. They also use their diverse cultural backgrounds to connect ancient traditions with the newest technical innovations, or to mix Eastern and Western philosophical concepts.


“Playing with words: the spoken word in artistic practice” is also the title of an anthology of works from over forty leading contemporary sound artists and composers who use words, particularly spoken words, as their material and inspiration.

The book is edited by Cathy Lane and published by CRiSAP, London.


“Playing with Words – Live” is a collaboration between Kulturnetz Frankfurt e.V.,
a non-profit organisation with the aim of promoting cultural events (poetry, music, art) & cultural education in Frankfurt and the Rhein-Main area, CRiSAP (Creative Research in Sound Art Practice), which is part of the London College of Communication. CRiSAP is a research unit exploring sound, environment and artistic practice. The organisation also developing creative software and publishing works on sound art and „The artist corner“, hr2kultur, Kulturradio Hessen.




6 Chapters (100′03″)
DVD (500 copies)



About the Artists:



Nye Parry (GB), is a composer and sound artist working in installation, multimedia and contemporary dance. He has made work for numerous museums including the Science Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Heineken Museum, and Kew Bridge Steam Museum. His multichannel work “Boomtown” has spawned an interest in oral history in composition, which led to “The Memory Machine”, a collaboration with Cathy Lane. Work for contemporary dance includes numerous collaborations with Yael Flexer, including pieces for Bedlam, Scottish Dance Theatre and the Circus Space, as well as pieces for Colin Poole, Raphael Bonacela, Charles Linehan, Sarah Rubidge and Bi Ma, and a CD ROM with Mark Baldwin. He also composes concert works, which have been broadcast internationally, for example by BBC Radio 3 and France Musique. Nye has a PhD in Electroacoustic Composition and runs the MA in Sonic Arts at Middlesex University. He also teaches at Goldsmiths College and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.



Sianed Jones (GB), is a composer/ performer/ improviser/ teacher specialising in extended vocal techniques, working in cross art form projects, collaborating cross culturally with choreographers. writers, film makers and performance artists in site specific performances. Her vocal research has taken her to Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgistan. Sianed has recently returned to live in Wales, driven by a ‘hiraeth’ (longing) for the mountains and a desire to live and work with the language once more. She is currently working on her Welsh performance/ video installation “Taliesin” in collaboration with videomaker Henrietta Hale and as an actress/ musician with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She is also recording a Celtic/ Asian Fusion album of improvisations with South Indian percussionist Divakar Subramaniam.



Ansuman Biswas (GB), (born 1965, Calcutta, India) lives in London. His activities encompass a number of disciplines including music, dance, theatre, visual art and writing. He has worked with MTV, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House and the National Institute of Medical Research among many others and, as a percussionist, with Courtney Pine, The Specials, Asian Dub Foundation, Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney, Björk, Oasis, and The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. His solo performances have been presented at the Edinburgh Festival, ICA, National Review of Live Art and the Sonic Arts Network. He has exhibited work at Tate Modern, The South London Gallery, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Yerba Buena Centre, San Francisco, and even in zero gravity. His main interest is in hybridity and interdisciplinarity and especially in the fertile borderland between ancient Indian philosophy and modern Western science.



Jaap Blonk (NL), (born 1953 in Woerden, Holland) is a self-taught composer, performer and poet. He went to university to study mathematics and musicology but did not finish those studies. In the late 1970´s he took up saxophone and started to compose music. A few years later, he discovered his potential as a vocal performer, at first in reciting poetry and later on in improvisations and his own compositions. For almost two decades the voice was his main means for the discovery and development of new sounds. 2000, Blonk started to work with electronics, at first using samples of his own voice, then extending the field to include pure sound synthesis, as well. He took a year off of performing in 2006. As a result, his renewed interest in mathematics made him start a research of the possibilities of algorithmic composition for the creation of music, visual animation and poetry. Besides working as a soloist, Blonk has collaborated with many musicians and ensembles in the field of contemporary and improvised music. He was the founder and leader of the long-standing bands Splinks (modern jazz, 1983-1999) and BRAAXTAAL (avant-rock, 1987-2005). He also has his own record label, Kontrans, featuring a total of 15 releases so far.



Jörg Piringer (A), (born 1974, currently living in Vienna, Austria) is a member of the Institute for Transacoustic Research and of the the First Vienna Vegetable Orchestra and holds a Masters in Computer Science. He works as a freelance artist and researcher in the fields of electronic music, radio art, sound and visual electronic poetry, interactive collaborative systems, online communities, live performance, sound installation, computer games and video art.



Dirk Huelstrunk (G) is a writer, sound- and samplepoet from Frankfurt/Main with influences ranging from dada, surrealism, fluxus, beat poetry to spoken word, pop and modern electronic soundpoetry. He collaborated with rock- and jazzmusicians as well as dj´s. Huelstrunk is also the founder of a soundpoets group and of the improvising jazz-poetry performance project „SOUNDS LIKE POETRY?“ He has performed all over Germany, Europe, USA and did lectures and workshops on performance poetry at schools and universities. His work has been published in public and private radio and tv. Huelstrunk is also an organizer for poetry events and festivals.  Since 1998 he hosts the Poetry Slam Frankfurt.







Playing with Words – Live
A collaborative project by: Kulturnetz Frankfurt e.V.,

& CRiSAP London,
Festival curated & hosted by:

Dirk Huelstrunk (Kulturnetz Frankfurt e.V.) & Sarah Kaldor (CRiSAP London)

Film/editing/DVD conception by: Bernhard Bauser

Soundrecording by: Andreas Heynold, hr
Edited by: Manfred Hess, „The Artist’s Corner“, hr2-kultur

Kindly supported by: Department of Culture, Frankfurt/ Main

Produced by: Kulturnetz Frankfurt e.V. & Hessischer Rundfunk 2010

Coverdesign by: Gabi Schaffner,
Many thanks to: Cathy Lane & Sarah Kaldor (CRiSAP), Sonja Vandenrath (Dept. of Culture, Frankfurt/Main), Andreas Heynold (hr soundrecording), Katja Esther & Marcel Smeykal (camera), Lasse-Marc Riek (soundart-DJ), Heike Bonzelius & Winfried Becker (Gallus Theater), Johannes Schmidt & Tarkan Gürsoy (theatre technicians), Katrin Hoedemacker (translation support)
Sound Art Series by Gruenrekorder

Gruenrekorder / Germany / 2010 / Gruen 083 / LC 09488





James Riley | The Sound Projector
This DVD is a video document of the live sound art and spoken word festival ‘Playing with Words’ that took place at the Gallus Theater, Frankfurt on May 21st, 2009. The festival was part of collaboration between Kulturnetz Frankfurt and CRiSAP (Creative Research in Sound Art Practice) at the London College of Communication, a project that also yielded the anthology Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice edited by Cathy Lane. Having generated some positive reviews, the anthology looks set to become a key work in its field. It brings together some useful texts by complimentary practioners who are rarely collated within such a cohesive frame. Although not as comprehensive due to the obvious restrictions of the event, Playing with Words: Live is just as valuable as the anthology particularly because it dispenses with theory and presents practice: sound art offered and understood as an act of performance.


Shot by Bernhard Bauser, the DVD features footage of each of the 6 international participants: Nye Parry, Sianed Jones, Ansuman Biswas, Jaap Blonk, Jörg Piringer and Dirk Huelstrunk. Although ‘sound art’ is a broad church this was not an evening of ‘tablecore’, noise or electronic music despite the use of digital technology and various forms of manipulating amplification. The focus in each case was on the range, potentialities and extremities of the human voice. Each artist took the voice (their own, and in the case of Nye, that of his friend Gordon McPherson) as their primary instrument and the performances set about deconstructing its abilities as a generator of sound.


This obsessively sonic remit along with the bare theatre setting begs the question why go to the trouble of releasing a DVD at all? Surely this could have been better served as a CD to parallel the book?


Well, no actually. What the DVD shows is importance of the visual information in the understanding of the performative and material aspect of sound art. For instance, whilst Blonk creates extraordinary sounds the key to understanding his piece lies not in trying to translate or decode that which is heard. Instead the significance is connected to the way he tugs and pulls on his throat and face to actually produce his sounds. His voice is used as an incorporated instrument, one that projects itself out into the air but is at the same time embodied within the architecture of the larynx and mouth. Much the same can be said of Biswas and Huelstrunk. They both start with breathing techniques and short grunts which build into contorted, seemingly glossolalic articulations. Biswas’s is the more conceptually defined of the two performances, taking the form of a fractured, self- conscious lecture that struggles to bridge theory and practice. In both cases though, it’s essential to see the actual manipulation of the voice in order to get a sense of it as a corporeal entity.


There’s a different but no less important emphasis on visual meaning in Piringer’s piece, the first one on the DVD. The performance involves the repetition of individual letters which are gradually accumulated into a modulating drone. This is also played out alongside a projection screen that shows similar letters spread out, colliding and overlapping. His vocal work with the phoneme is thus reflected in the spectacular pile-up of corresponding graphemes. There’s the obvious influence of concrete poetry here (Ernst Jandl comes to mind) but what’s distinctive is the animated nature of the projections. This permits typescript, that which is usually spatially determined, to be included into the temporality of the vocal performance as it moves up, down and across the screen.


In the case of Parry and Jones, the visual impact of their performances comes with their use of self-accompaniment. Nye works with a disassembled answer phone message broadcast via a portable stereo and Jones uses a violin during her extended vocal performance. These instruments initially work as support to the voices of Nye and Jones but they are gradually integrated into the looping structure of the performances themselves, suggesting a wider interest in echo, feedback and dialogue.


Playing with Words was obviously a fascinating event. The DVD is a slightly riskier prospect because these things can so easily become souvenirs: interesting only if you happen to have been there. What redeems this document is the consistency of the performers. As sound artists they’re working with very different methodologies but seeing them together in succession brings out their collective rationale. There’s clearly a reason why they should be on stage together and that’s the reason why you should watch this.

Stefan Drees | positionen.  #90

[…] Dokumentarischen Charakter hat auch die vom Kulturnetz Frankfurt veröffentlichte Produktion Playing with Words mit Beiträgen des International SoundArtFestival 2009. Die Vielfalt des oft spielerischen Umgangs mit Sprache und Stimme belegt etwa Jörg Pirringer, der die Sprachlaute elektronischen Manipulationen unterzieht, sie zu geloopten Rhythmusstrukturen verdichtet und diese mit einer Visualisierung grafischer Sprachsymbole kontrapunktiert. Ansuman Biswas arbeitet hingegen mit der Vermischung von theatraler Aktion, narrativer Handlung und Lautgebung, die sich auf der Grenze von Kommunikation und Missverständnis bewegt. Auch Dirk Huelstrunk knüpft seinen Umgang mit der Stimme an die Situation des Nichtverstehens und erweitert die mit Mund, Nase, Kehle etc. erfolgende Lautformung durch den Einsatz von Elektronik. Sianed Jones wiederum vereint Violine und Stimme zu einem instrumental begleiteten, experimentellen Gesang, während Nye Parry ihre Auseinandersetzung mit Sprache im Dialog mit einem Ghettoblaster inszeniert. Jaab Blonk schließlich schafft eine imaginäre Sprache, die sich – trotz Anklänge an bestimmte, emotional geprägte Sprachtonfälle – als Vehikel ohne Inhalte erweist. Während hier die Wahl des Mediums DVD belegt, welche wichtige Rolle der visuelle Eindruck bei der Wahrnehmung von Performances spielt, hinterlässt die Produktion Spectral Strands einen zwiespältigen Eindruck. […]



Ron Schepper | textura

[…] A rather different experience is provided by the DVD presentation, and one that’s not quite as satisfying as the CD, primarily because while the audio release benefits greatly from concision, the DVD suffers at times from a lack of it. It’s a bare-bones production, with the focus solely on the stage performances of six performers: Joerg Piringer, Ansuman Biswas, Dirk Huelstrunk, Sianed Jones, Nye Parry, and Jaap Blonk. On an uncluttered stage, each performer appears in turn, sometimes augmented by a laptop or electronic device. With the six performers presenting, in most cases, long-form pieces, in-depth portraits are gained but at times overlong ones. The one-hundred-minute DVD might therefore appeal more to hard-core devotees of the genre.


At five minutes, Parry’s clever “The Two of Us” is the very model of concision, as Parry, aided by a beatbox, fills in the blank spaces left in the played-back spoken text using words, phrases, and even single letters (his “p” sound, for example, followed immediately by “ersonal”). Piringer’s laptop-cued piece synchronizes percussive voice effects and falling letters (projected on a screen onstage) that accumulate along the white screen’s horizontal base (the edges of the rectangular screen act as impassable borders); during the performance, his voice becomes a cacophanous battering ram and relentless industrial machine as black letterforms pile on top and then ricochet off of one another. Nothing as recognizable as language is heard during the seventeen-minute firestorm; instead, his voice acts as a sound element that’s constantly subjected to mutation via the software treatments. Huelstrunk’s loud breathing, sniffing, and lip smacking remind us of the vast potential for sound that the voice and body can produce; he also uses in his fourteen-minute presentation a theremin-like sampling device to duplicate his voice and add an occasional electronic noise, with his hand positions above the device modifying the pitch and volume of the produced sound. The greatest portion of the DVD is given to Blonk in a wide-ranging performance where he’s seen slipping in and out of multiple languages; he gives a seeming master class in vocal techniques by at times wailing like an animal and simulating a gremlin and sputtering machine engine, his face and body elastically pulling in multiple directions as he does so. But the DVD’s high point is Sianed Jones‘ mesmerizing twenty-minute performance. Armed with a violin, she begins with four minutes of wordless vocalizing that’s reminiscent at times of folk chant—joyous and celebratory, with an undercurrent of mournful lament—before bringing the instrument’s plucks into the mix and then bowing, the violin’s tones a contrasting harmonic complement to her incredibly versatile vocalizing.



Brian Olewnick | Just outside

[…] There’s also an accompanying DVD from the 2009 festival with six performances, the only non-aggravating one, for my taste, again courtesy Sianed Jones who delivers an outstanding, lengthier example of her vocal/violin stylings–really good. In fairness, Jaap Blonk fans, of which I am not one, will enjoy his outing as well.



Frans de Waard | VITAL WEEKLY

[…] I assume that the DVD holds the documentation of the presentation of the double CD. It has six performers of sound poetry: Nye Parry, Sianed Jones, Ansuman Biswas, Jaap Blonk, Jorg Piringer and Dirk Hulestrunk (who is also the organizer of the event). Piringer has a nice piece of rhythmic sounds from the mouth and computer animation. Biswas plays without words for a while, and then starts singing (?), Huelstrunk uses a bit of electronics. Jones plays a bit of violin and also ’sings‘ and at times comes closer to traditional music, whereas Parry is more narrative but very funny and very short. Jaap Blonk closes the (long!) evening and proofs to be the master of the genre of sound/text/voice/poetry, a class actor at that. So this is what sound poetry looks like. Curious. […]