Erwin Stache

'It's not only the sound of everyday things, objets trouvés or industrial waste that interests me, but their form, structure and history. They give me various points of departure for building a sound-sculpture or a new instrument.'

(Erwin Stache)


Electronic switches – Visible machinery

Erwin Stache seems to love the poetry of simple things. His artistic work is devoted to developing and building electro-acoustic and mechanical devices. They come in various sizes, from miniature objects to large-scale mechanical orchestras. His smallest work is a stage piece inside a carton ? the universe in a box. Upholstered in black satin, wondrous sounds emerge from the casket. Pitch, tempo, timbre and volume are controlled by lifting and lowering the lid ? a technique resembling musical birthday cards. Nothing happens unless the action is carried out. Stache, an artist and builder of objects, has already produced a number of such objects. They resound and move. They dance through the room. They're controlled via mechanical elements such as hinges, lids or grates that become instruments when connected to activators and resonant space ? that is, natural amplifiers. Small and large boxes: they stand for contrasting pitches and noises, just as with instruments.


Sounding motions

Stache was born in Aue in the Ore Mountains in 1960. In 2002 one of his large pieces of sculpture was exhibited at the Donaueschingen Festival. Once again the elements emitted sounds as they moved, as if by magic. The title, Eckpendel ? Scherengitter und Module ('Corner pendulum – Collapsible gates and modules'), sounds highly technical. But the work itself is witty. It consists of mechanical objets trouvés transformed into an ensemble. A wooden coat stand, a couple of collapsible gates and similar things were activated by electric motors, transforming the things into kinetic objects. The darkened room was filled with games of light and shadow. Stache, who has a degree in mathematics and physics, used these and similar objets trouvés to create pieces of mechanical and acoustical sculpture that seem to mimic the movements of performing musicians.


Showcases – Stage sets

Stache appeared at Donaueschingen again in 2007. This time he played on a pond on the palace grounds. Resonating tubes were submerged in the water. Their sound was altered by varying the amounts of water, as in a natural organ. The result was a surface that moved and emitted sounds tinged by birdsong and pedestrian noises in the park. 'Impact on space is a major point of my installations', Stache explains. 'The mechanical devices floating like robots on one of the palace ponds are technological objects that actually function as alien elements in the natural surroundings.' The out-door stage gives free reign to chance. Things simply happen that cannot be planned in advance. The spectators observe and follow the acoustical motions. With his stage, the artist reminds us of the basic pattern of observation. Event, staging and visibility give his works something readily intelligible. Stache kindles our delight in discovery. The artistic career of this electronic gadget-maker and organ builder led him from the theatrical stage to his own natural stages. Stache intervenes in these locations and alters our perception. Curious and attentive, his visitors move through exhibits where collections of resonant containers are presented, usually on tables. Hands-on is expressly encouraged!


Absurd machines

This multimedia artist draws on the history of early 20th-century music and art. Using techniques from the 1910s and 1920s, from Futurism and the Bauhaus, he assembles musical orchestras from machines and other kinetic material. His guiding principle is, roughly, anything that moves generates a sound. Among his works are Klangzeug ('Soundstuff', 1989) composed of self-performing nickelodeons, Paradoxe Klaviaturen ('Paradoxical Keyboards', 1992-98), Waschmaschinenprogrammscheibenorchester ('Washing Machine Program Dial Orchestra', 2000), and Saiten-Kästen-Matrix ('String-Box-Matrix', 2008). Stache, who lives near Leipzig, has rediscovered the joy of kinetic objects in his constructions and has expanded their musical potential. His art evokes a theatre of the absurd with a wondrous life of its own and many playful elements.


Onlookers ? Learning with sound

Pieces of electro-magnetic sculpture were put on display in a public space, as happened recently in Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt Square. The passers-by, especially children, activated the objects with keen interest. When Stache talks about grasping art, he means it literally. Here to understand is to grasp. Using their hands, participants could connect the four stainless steel poles two at a time to create an electric circuit. Their actions were rewarded with short electronic melodies or excerpts from larger works. Pitch and rhythm were altered by the pressure they put on the poles. But the resonant sculpture only became a public work of art through the surrounding onlookers, who took delight in the unusual instrument and were transformed unawares from observers to agents. The sculpture involved is part of a series with constantly changing names: 73.8 -- 83.7 -- 34.9 Kilo Ohm.


Christoph Metzger

produced by

Deutscher Musikrat gemeinnützige Projekt-
gesellschaft mbH


Zeitgenössische Musik

Weberstraße 59, 53113 Bonn

P 02 28 - 20 91 170
F 02 28 - 20 91 200

curators of the exhibition

Stefan Fricke,

Johannes S. Sistermanns