schlachtschiffgrau – battleship grey

schlachtschiffgrau – an eight-channel sound installation for busy museum spaces

for Glenn Gould

Sound as a spatial camouflage – the noise and the time structure from Gould’s recordings of the Goldberg Variations as aural architecture

As part of the installation, the continuous noise fragments of the original recording are used as room exciters at various locations using loudspeakers hidden in the museum space. Thus creating a multi-centered, subliminal change of color in the exhibition space, which changes according to the 31-part time structure of the original composition and its interpretation. The change in the listening position of the audience leads to shading effects through the furniture and construction of the respective building. This in turn gives rise to individual aural architectures of the individual listener, who at the moment when the end of one of the variations is reached, break off, collapse and rebuild themselves when using the next variation.

schalchtschiffgrau (55): Lenght 38’34”.
schlachtschiffgrau (81): Lenght 51’18”.

Glenn Gould’s favorite color was the camouflage color of battleship grey, as he noted in an interview with himself from Vom Konzertsaal zum Tonstudio – Schriften zur Musik 2, p. 119.


schlachtschiffgrau (81) is an 8-channel audio work that can be heard through invisible loudspeakers in the exhibition space. The work refers to the Canadian pianist and author Glenn Gould, who is particularly important for Sharma because of his writings as well as his media-theoretical views expressed in interviews and writings. The work title is a direct reference to Gould, who once referred to the camouflage color battleshipgray as his favorite color. The idea of ​​camouflage, more precisely of a subliminal audible sound curtain in a kind of acoustic camouflage layer, resonates in Sharma’s sound installation. The sound material used is derived from Gould’s later recording of the Goldberg Variations by J. S. Bach. The number 81 in the title refers to the fact that Gould’s recording in 1981 was the last official production of the 30th Street Studio of Columbia Records. Thereafter, the historically legendary and for the “studio media art” formative recording studio was closed, probably because it was no longer profitable. Audible in the installation is not the familiar piano sound. Sharma takes over the noise component and thus above all the time structure of Gould’s legendary recording and to a certain extent, he generates an abstract homage far from anecdotal allusions and superficial sound quotes.
(Reinhard Buskies, Kunstverein Bochum)


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