The "Unruh" of the Mozarteum

Spot On MozART
Spot On MozART Publikation | © Michael Klimt

Since October 2019, Spot On MozART has been dedicated to the visual exploration of listening and thus to a new understanding of the music of Wolfgang Amadé Mozart. At the end of the project in autumn 2023, the Mozarteum University will present a retrospective of all implemented art and research projects in a comprehensive publication.

At the latest since the finalization of Beethoven's 10th Symphony by artificial intelligence, a (re)linking of paraments is taking place in the field of interpretation and reception of classical music by means of modern technology, the combination of which was perceived as impossible or aberrant just a few years ago. Today's media offerings, with their 15-second videos, fast-moving and -dying content, perpetual availability and the trigger of always setting new impulses, seem to be in stark contrast to the reception of classical music. But it is precisely this connection between historical music and new media that the interdisciplinary, inter-university project Spot On MozART uses to explore the creative potential of digital and social transformation and thus open up an exploratory scope. What would a music video for Mozart's music look like according to today's standards? How do listeners experience an aria with 360° sound and image? What pedagogical aspects can be found in the compositions of the Genius Loci? And how does the perception of music change when we add new images to it? Spot On MozART posed a multitude of questions that not only led to lasting impulses for teaching and research, but also challenged the entire innovation potential of an art university.

Whether random generators, real-time graphics, multi-dimensional or synthetic sound experiments, touch interfaces, 360° productions - video as well as sound -, immersive-playful components and therapeutic processes, movement tracking or light painting: Through the intensive collaboration of several university institutions with external experts, Spot On MozART stimulated artistic and communicative potentials that creatively deal with digitalization or digitality in the context of Mozart's music. For students, the unique opportunity opened up to move in the professional field of art and culture individually and in teams, to experiment and research at the same time, as part of their studies. Researchers, teachers, actors from culture and media were also invited to undertake journeys of thought and design with their ideas and concepts and to explore the link between seeing and hearing along the fields of action of music, visualization, innovation, research and "Spot On". Cooperation partners since 2019 are the University of Applied Arts and the Vienna University of Technology, the Research Studios Austria and the universities and colleges in Salzburg.

Based on one work by Mozart each, the focus was on exploration beyond the boundaries of the discipline as well as on the spirit of experimentation, so that in the best case scenario the audience of the 21st century could also come into direct contact with Mozart's oeuvre. Spot On MozART also conducted research at the interface between art, science and pedagogy: the smartphone app "Cultural Hotspots," for example, acts as a musical city guide for young people, combining learning about historically relevant places in Salzburg, listening to music and experiencing original works in a contemporary way outside the classroom. "Face Your Mozart," a tool of the Mozartumorchester, is also an encouragement to actively engage with Mozart's music, to hear sensations and human interaction from the music, and to translate these into pantomime or scenic action. "How to find myself through Mozart" set itself the goal, in cooperation with the Christian Doppler Clinic, the Paracelsus Medical Private University and the artists' group gold extra, of integrating artistic activities into therapeutic processes with mentally ill young people and thus investigating new therapeutic approaches. The accompanying medical-psychological research served the evidence-based establishment of art in medicine. In "The Colors of Salzburg," Alrun Pacher captures analogies between Mozart's C minor Phantasia (KV 475) and "color chords" in the form of photographs. With the aim of giving visitors active playful and at the same time creative access to Mozart's work, the 1st movement from Mozart's Clarinet Quintet was realized as an interactive fulldome environment under the direction of Martin Kusch: "Mozart-realtime Quintet" offers an audiovisual experience in which Mozart's music was realized as a synesthetic, interactive visualization using computer-generated real-time graphics. "Mozart Contained!" by Anna-Sophie Ofner is an interactive musical experience in multiple container simulations, taking Mozart out of concert halls and opera houses. In one container, one experiences the Dissonance Quartet (KV 465) haptically, visually and acoustically; in the second part of the project, the Rondo in A minor (KV 511) provides the musical starting point for the repetition-based change in perception.

Spot On MozART also focuses on accessibility and interactivity in order to break down barriers to the perception of classical music. Marcel Kieslich's installation "Spiel!" explores scenic robotics from a theatrical-philosophical perspective and allows Mozart to come into contact with the mechanical and the technological: An industrial robot interprets the musical play KV 516f and invites participants to join in. Using virtual reality glasses, Mozart's aria "Geme la tortorella" (KV 196) from the opera "La finta giardiniera", sung by Regula Mühlemann with musical accompaniment by students under the direction of Gernot Sahler, becomes a 360° experience that opens up in the setting of Hangar-7. "Reactive Mozart" is an interactive installation for 2 players* who can interact with the music as well as with the other person in 2 rooms with 360° sound and visuals via motion tracking and control the violin and cello. "Mozart Spehres in Orbit" uses Spatial Audio for VR glasses to make individual white glowing spheres orbit around an invisible center in a virtual black room. Each of these spheres represents a note of the Adagio of Mozart's Sonata for Piano and Violin in F Major (KV 55) and reacts in real time to the dynamics of the piece. And "Constructing Mozart" is dedicated to upheavals in the life of the composer and musician along his family conflicts in an immersive mixed-reality environment. A variety of project presentations, exhibitions, and film screenings regularly provided interested audiences with comprehensive insights into these and many other processes and Spot On MozART projects that have been worked on since the project's launch in 2019.

Spot On MozART acted as a platform for concepts that allow new perspectives and exciting confrontations with Mozart's music to unfold, be experienced, and be thought about even more than 220 years after his death. An approach that can always be renewed and reshaped in keeping with the times, and which defines the examination of Mozart as the "Unruh" of the Mozarteum: through time there is a constant inner drive, a driving energy. Marcel Kieslich, who completed his doctorate within the framework of Spot On MozART, aptly underscores this in his contribution to the project retrospective: "For me, Spot On MozART was once again proof that theory and practice are mutually beneficial, insofar as both dimensions are accorded an equal position in the academic enterprise."


(First published in Uni-Nachrichten / Salzburger Nachrichten on October 7, 2023)

Spot On MozarART