Neue Zeitschrift für Musik vol:172 issue:5 pages:22-27
In the second half of the twentieth century, several giants of musical modernism such as Xenakis and Stockhausen have proposed new interpretations of the 19th century concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk. Relying on the latest technologies in the field of sound, light and automation and developed in close collaboration with architects, their revision of the total work of art entailed an open set of experiences admitting no privileged viewing position or single message. As such multisensory environments demand substantial financial resources, they necessarily emanate from public commissions or wealthy private companies. That does not necessarily compromise the artistic integrity of such a project however. A quick survey of the last World Fairs reveals how several artists have succeeded in exploiting the latest technological achievements in their field to creative and critical ends rather than for social manipulation and economic gain. As we briefly argue in this article, by turning an ideologically or commercially charged brief into an artistic and technological statement, the Philips Pavilion (1958) by Xenakis and Le Corbusier, Stockhausen’s Kugel-Auditorium (1970) or the Blur Building (2002) by Diller & Scofidio interrogate the most fundamental aspect of architecture, namely its materiality.