Artist Talk: Gerhard Eckel

Hordaland kunstsenter 02.02.2010 19.0002.02.2010 21.00


Update: The presentation was recorded as mp3, and is available here:

Part 1 (1:30:56):


Part 2 (29:13):


Eckel holds a PhD in Musicology from the University of Vienna (1989). In addition to his scientific training he studied Composition of Electroacoustic Music (with Dieter Kaufmann) and Sound Engineering at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Vienna. European scholarships brought him to the Institute for Sonology in Utrecht in 1985 and to IRCAM, the computer music department of the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 1987. Eckel worked as artistic-scientific researcher at IRCAM (1989–1996) and at the Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication (IMK) in St. Augustin, Germany (1996–2005).

His research work at IRCAM focused on the construction of computer tools for composition, sound synthesis and visualisation. In 1989 he invented the user interface paradigm SpecDraw for the AudioSculpt application. He was also involved in the development of the physical modelling system Modalys. From 1994 onwards he headed his own research group Interfaces et représetations des sons. At Fraunhofer IMK he worked in a virtual reality (VR) department where he specialized in 3D audio rendering for projection-based VR systems. His group built the first CAVE in Germany in 1996.

Eckel takes both an artistic and scientific interest in matters of sound. His research topics range from psychoacoustics, over sound analysis, visualization, processing, spatial rendering and synthesis to virtual and augmented reality systems using gestural control. Lately he is mainly involved in artistic research, with a special focus on its connections to scholarly research.

He creates sound and music installations for real and virtual spaces, which are presented at international festivals, conferences and trade fairs as well as in museums and galleries (including CeBIT, ICMC, Expo2000, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Galerie Stadtpark Krems, Inventionen Berlin, Archipel Genf). His extended studies on space and architecture and their relevance for music and sound art brought him to the Banff Centre for the Arts, where he served as Composer-in-Residence in 1995 and 2000. His CAVE-based music installation Camera Musica presented at Expo 2000 received a Honorary Mention at Ars Electronica in 2001.

Eckel’s early works incorporate aspects of improvisation in the analogue studio, digital tape music, electroacoustic performance and concert installation. His later work is focussed on the possibilities of sound installations to convey formal openness to the audience in a tangible way. Since recently he combines his interest in generative music processes, as usually employed in installation situations, with performance-based forms. From 2000 –2003 he coordinated the EU-IST-project LISTEN, which defined and explored immersive audio-augmented environments from a scientific and artistic perspective. In 2002, he served as an Edgar Varèse visiting professor at the Electronic Studio of Technical University Berlin. In 2004, Eckel worked as Artist-in-Residence in Krems, Austria.

In his most recent artistic research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), he and his team develop a new paradigm of intermedial expression: Embodied Generative Music. Since 2007 he directs IEM. His latest project Choreography of Sound is funded in context of the FWF’s new artistic research funding program PEEK.

Eckel is currently artist-in residence at USF in Bergen, working on the Catabolizer project for Borealis 2010, in collaboration with Lydalleriet and BEK while in Bergen.