Confronting Realities. Working on Cinematic Autosociobiographies (PEEK-Projekt)

In relation to literary autosociobiographies Confronting Realities asks from an art practical and theoretical point of view how the format of cinematic autosociobiographies can be explored, described and produced, especially focusing on the fundamentally collaborative character of filmmaking. The project is designed on four levels: Level (1) of Autosociobiographical Exploration that will create the “Laboratory of cinematic autosociobiographies” (LAFA). LAFA tries to probe, explore and search, to make accessible and to contextualize one’s biography from an art-based perspective. Level (2) of Cinematic Forms and Techniques intends to develop and create narratives and cinematic techniques of cinematic autosociobiographies and translating them into cinematic formats. Level (3) of Interdisciplinary and Theoretical Contextualization wishes to build a strong foundation and interconnection between art- based and interdisciplinary research about (auto-)sociobiographies, cinematic forms and collaborative strategies of art production. Level (4) of Reflection and Evaluation intends to build a reflective framework around the project. During all these stages the “Digital Archive of Cinematic Autosociobiographies” (DAFA), a website-based representation and documentation platform, will ensure an ongoing dissemination and documentation of the project. So far, the field of cinematic autosociobiographies has not been explored neither theoretically nor practically, though several related cinematic formats exist. Confronting Realities therefore promises a pioneer work in this field. Furthermore, in times of a worldwide shift to the right marked by a rise in nationalism and populism, the question of social classes and its cultural, economic and political changes as well as their inscriptions into the individual have once again become topical.
Project Team | Nina Kusturica, Elena Meilicke, Claudia Walkensteiner-Preschl (lead), Christina Wintersteiger, Barbara Wolfram
Duration | 09/2021- 09/2024
Funding | FWF PEEK (AR 628)




Atlas of Smooth Spaces (PEEK-Projekt)

Atlas of Smooth Spaces – Notating, Communicating and Composing Spaces in Audio-Corporeal Practices


  1. Theoretical framework

In this artistic research project we explore how to notate, communicate and compose space phenomena across audio-corporeal artistic practices. We investigate these in four disciplines: Dance, Rhythmics, Choir Conducting and Direct Sound. They share an awareness for a certain tacit knowledge about space. In stark contrast to musical or movement notations, one finds that notated spaces are rather scarce in the audio-corporeal practices even though space unites them. We argue that this lacuna will be brigded by working on an atlas of space qualities. Rather than communicating merely the metric measures of spaces without the performer, we are concerned instead with emergent spatial qualities of smooth spaces that complement the performer, that exist outside of but not without the performer.


  1. Hypotheses / Research questions / Objectives

We will compare and contrast each of the four disciplines with one another to investigate how to intensify spatial phenomena, how to translate and communicate them, how to appropriate them for ones own practice and how to engage into mutual composition. We inquire about the kinetic spheres of two performers when a third one enters. Similar to the three-body problem in physics we seek to describe this emergent phenomena. How can the complexified spatial interactions of the kinespheres be notated? How saturated becomes the space, how fragmented, how synchronous?


  1. Approach /Methods

We conduct experiments during which a smooth space phenomenon is first distilled and condensed to a clear spatial expression. This we call the null-space. It is the starting point for our investigations and experiments, which are co-created in an iterative process by the performers and a complexity scientist. We foresee a recursive pipeline, that divides the work into individual, collision and co-production modes. We also foresee a role fluidity – performer, experimenter and documenter are not attached to individuals allowing for a change of perspective.


  1. Level of innovation

Acknowledging the importance of spaces in the audio-corporeal arts we consider the development of transdisciplinary space practices and notations as our major innovation. Secondly we believe that the particular mode of collaboration between performers and a complexity scientist leads into new artistic methodologies. Thirdly we create a toolbox that refers to the intense qualities of audio-corporeal space articulations and enlargens the disciplinary range of compositional space factors for artistic productivity.


  1. Primary staff involved in the project

University of Music and Performing Arts (mdw)

Institute of Dance Arts / Anton Bruckner Private University Linz

Complexity Science HUB Vienna

Alphabetically: Rose Breuss (Dance), William Franck (Direct Sound), Johannes Hiemetsberger (Choir),

Hanne Pilgrim (Rhythmics).


Creative (Mis)Understandings (PEEK project)

This project is a project of artistic research funded by the PEEK (Programme for Arts-based Research) funding program, managed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, AR 463-G24). It aims to develop transcultural approaches of inspiration (which we regard as mutually appreciated intentional and reciprocal artistic influence based on solidarity) by combining approaches from contemporary music composition and improvisation with ethnomusicological and sociological research. We encourage creative (mis)understandings emerging from the interaction between research and artistic practice, and between European art music, folk and non-western styles, in particular from indigenous minorities in Taiwan. Both comprehension and incomprehension yield serendipity and inspiration for new research questions, innovative artistic creation, and applied follow-ups among non-western communities.

The project departs from two premises: first, that contemporary western art music as a practice often tends to resort to certain degrees of elitism; and second, that non-western musical knowledge is often either ignored or merely exploited when it comes to compositional inspiration. We do not regard inspiration as unidirectional, an “input” like recording or downloading material for artistic use. Instead, we foster artistic interaction by promoting dialogical and distributed knowledge production in musical encounters. Developing inter­disciplinary and transcultural methodologies of musical creation will contribute on the one hand towards opening up the—rightly or wrongly supposed—“ivory tower of contemporary composition”, and on the other hand will contribute towards the recognition of the artistic value of non-western musical practices. By highlighting the reciprocal nature of inspiration, creative (mis)understandings will result in socially relevant and innovative methodologies for creating and disseminating music with meaning.

The methods applied in the proposed project will start out from ethnographic evidence that people living in non-western or traditional societies often use methods of knowledge production within the sonic domain which are commonly unaddressed or even unknown among western contemporary music composers (aside from exotist or orientalistic appropriations of “the other”).

The project is designed in four stages: field research and interaction with indigenous communities in Taiwan with a focus on the Tao people on Lanyu Island, collaborative workshops in Vienna, an artistic research and training phase with invited indigenous Taiwanese coaches in Vienna, and feeding back to the field in Taiwan. During all these stages, exchange and coordination between composers, music makers, scholars and source community experts will be essential in order to reflect not only on the creative process, but also to analyse and support strong interaction between creation and society. Re-interaction with source communities as well as audience participation in the widest sense will help to increase the social relevance of the artistic results.

The University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (MDW) will host the project. The contributors are Johannes Kretz (project leader) and Wei-Ya Lin (project co-leader, senior researcher) with their team of seven composers, ten artistic research partners from Taiwan and six artistic and academic consultants with extensive experience in the relevant fields.


Rotting Sounds - Embracing the temporal deterioration of digital audio (PEEK-Projekt)

Most of today’s media output, be it audio or video, is produced and stored in the digital domain. Although digital data are adorned by the myth of lossless transmission and migration, everyday experience does prove the existence of degradation and, ultimately, data loss in various forms. This pertains to the physical nature of storage media and playback devices as well as to media formats and software in the context of their technological infrastructure. The project strives to elaborate on the causes, mechanisms and effects of such deterioration, specifically in the context of digital audio.

Since degradation cannot be avoided on principle, it is our general aim to unearth latent degrees of freedom pertaining to the artistic practice in the omnipresence of decay.

How can degradation effects be understood, actuated, reproduced, directed and harnessed within sound art? Which are the mechanisms and implications of obsolescence concerning hard- and software? How can we model the process of decay in the digital domain, and what are its products and residues? What is the impact of the environment and human interaction? To which extent are artworks products of their material sources or their symptoms of decay?


Social D(ist)ancing – AR Pilot Project

The development of a networked artistic practice out of confinement whose aim is to develop effective tools and strategies for networked co-creation. Led by Rhythmics Prof. Hanne Pilgrim and researcher Adrián Artacho, the project started in September 2020 with six graduate rhythmics students as participants, dance scholar Mariama Diagne, and the support of the Artistic Research Center (ARC) of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Structured around six case studies –each featuring a different mode of intermedial transformation– and making only use of freely available software as a principle, the project has so far yielded useful insights on the limitations of the medium, while at the same time raising questions about networked artistic practice: In which ways —if any— can ”virtual rehearsals”  be thought of as equivalent to traditional (co-located) ones? What is unique about this mode of collaboration that is relevant for artistic practice? In which ways does this circumstance determine the artistic output? and most crucially, how can the limitations of the medium be reframed to add value to the rhythmics practice?

project blog:


RAD Performance – AR Pilot Project

Sonic Environment & Performance – a choral movement with mobile loudspeakers


RAD Performance places concerts and sound art on bicycles, in motion and with a multitude of loudspeakers at the centre of artistic research. Under the artistic guidance of Conny Zenk, the project started in July 2020 as an Artistic Research Pilot at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Based on historical drawings and approaches to participatory, bicycle-related forms of play (Reigenfahren u. Radfahr-Spiele by Josef Adametz, Vienna: Kreisel u. Gröger, 1901), the artistic team (Petra Sturm, Veronika Mayer, Rahel Kraft and Conny Zenk) is developing a choreography for cyclists, as well as graphic notations for musicians as the basis for 6-channel compositions. RAD performers will perform in public spaces using mobile loudspeakers on their bicycles. The acoustic, urban space complements, overlays and expands the electronic composition. At the crossroads of concert, performance and sound art, the bicycle becomes an artistic medium.


Mobile Stage – AR Pilot Project

The Mobile Stage project is the result of a collaboration with Alba Rastl (design), Chiara Bartl-Salvi (performance), Paul Ebhart (sound artist), Felix Huber and Arno Gitschthaler (mechanical engineering). Based on our different artistic practices, we have already been able to realise and present works in previous joint projects. From these experiences, recurring fields of interest have formed, which continue in the current work.



The interdisciplinary project with the working title “‘Mobile Stage'” combines different components and aspects of classical theatre, such as stage design, performance, sound, and the relationship between viewers and performers. It is a rotating stage that serves both as a performance space and as a sound installation and has been designed that it can be used for various external projects. The work is based on the idea of an inclusive public space and performance as an integral part of everyday public life and sees this as a prerequisite. The inclusion of the environment in this stage body is a central point in the individual disciplines. It has an influence on performance, sound and stage design. So we wanted to make the public space our space of action. Building on the stage body, we become part of the place, transforming and expanding the action space into a stage moment.



In the design, the centre of movement forms a metal tube around which a stage surface moves and rotates the surface moves both on its own axis and up and down in a helical motion. This creates different height ratios and spaces in between.


Through the institutional independence of the performance space, the project stands for an open space of experience and deliberately opposes the categorised ascribed social classes of the viewing audience. The round shape is supposed to dissolute the classical frontal perception so each viewing side is equal.


Stage design

The rotating stage was designed to be able to change between scenes as quickly as possible. One starting point was the inclusion of the revolving stage as a basic element of movement to which the performers are exposed. Questions of proprioception in relation to moving surfaces come up. How does the body react, how do movements change?



New choreographies are tested by means of the stage project. The rotating movement of the platform simulates the dancers’ proprioception and dissolves their basic motor skills. New possibilities in movement material and self-perception are developed.


Proprioception – The 6th sense

Proprioception is the perception of the position of one’s own body in space, including the sensation of weight, tension, strength and speed. It is no organ of its own and operates invisibly deep inside the body. Its a product of all the nerve stimuli that our brain constantly receives, especially from muscles and tendons. Proprioception is also about internal sensations that are difficult to recreate. The 6th sense arises from the interaction between our body and our environment, it accompanies us consciously and unconsciously. At a time when our body is being used less and less and is being paralysed due to increasingly sedentary activities, it is good to listen to our proprioception – both in our self-perception and in our interaction with our fellow human beings and our environment.



The Mobile Stage is meant to go to different places to enable different reflections and happenings with its environment. The synthesis between the stage element/sound sculpture/installation and its environment/surroundings/environment as a central research topic on all levels. It is about the relationship between human and environment, as well as between sculpture and environment. (References to Anish Kappor or Dan Grahams’ Octagon for Münster)



The inclusion of the environment in the object is also an essential point in sound design. The “sonic environment” described by Murray Schaeffer serves as a central concept in dealing  with sound. In

the stage, this would be the soundscape, by which the stage is surrounded by. For the development of the piece itself, a soundtrack is planned that will mixed with the “sonic environment”. Modulating effects could be Informations won out of the movement from the stage or the performer. Here we would like to experiment and research. How can movement change sound?


Book – Knowing in Performing

Knowing in Performing. Artistic Research in Music and the Performing Arts

This anthology takes stock of current developments in and reflections on artistic research in music and the performing arts. Thirteen international contributions explore the possibilities of processual knowledge production, taking into account participatory and experimental approaches, and examine their institutional implementation. How can performing be transformed into cognition? What does it mean to think through music, theatre, or dance?

The anthology published by Annegret Huber, Doris Ingrisch, Therese Kaufmann, Johannes Kretz, Gesine Schröder and Tasos Zembylas with transcript is based on contributions to the symposium “Knowing in Performing” in April 2018 as well as to the eponymous lecture series that took place at the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna from 2018 to 2020. As part of the book presentation, the dancer, choreographer and artistic researcher Evfa Lilja has read excerpts from her opening statement on the state of artistic research.

PDF “Knowing in Performing” DOI:

Lecture by Efva Lilja at the book presentation of “Knowing in Performing” DOI: 10.21939/KIP-2021-LILJA

Cover image: Angelicá Castelló – magnetic room


AR Pilot Call – support for artistic research

In 2018 the mdw began offering internal financial support for pilot projects in the field of artistic research.

The objective of this call was to facilitate the further development of artistic research practices, methods, and discourses within the fields and disciplines represented at the mdw. Nine artistic research projects, most of which are transdisciplinary and collaborative in nature, have since been granted support, and several of their teams have already submitted third-party funding applications to the Programme for Arts-Based Research (PEEK) of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The nine internally funded projects were selected from over 20 submissions by virtue of their innovative research questions and commensurately portrayed methods, with the idea being that artistic practice should play a central role in the research process. A further objective of this pilot call, above and beyond facilitating eventual third-party funding applications, was to disseminate projects’ findings via public performances, exhibitions, and publications. One avenue of publication is the website “Research Catalogue”—an online database that collects, archives, publishes, and exhibits artistic research—run by the Society of Artistic Research (SAR), of which the mdw is a member. The University’s present objective is to further intensify and refine its activities in the field of artistic research, a field that is now developing in so many respects, via the lecture series Knowing in Performing, the ongoing PEEK projects Rotting Sounds and Creative (Mis)understandings, and preparatory work for the future doctoral programme.

Further informations at the Webpage of Research Support at mdw

Pilot call at mdw magazin

Think Tank – about the foundations of artistic research

In 2018 in three meetings at mdw with experts from mdw and from outside  perspectives of artistic research were discussed, their foundation, contexts, possible or impossible definitions.


Think Tank Artistic Research (documentation, in german)