Wolfgang Voigt about Sampling


17-09-2014 | 16.45

Electronic music producer and visual artist Wolfgang Voigt will join us for the second edition of New Music for Found Footage where he will perform an original score for Gustav Deutsch’s “Film Ist.”.  I asked Voigt a few questions about the upcoming performance and his ideas about sampling.

What did you find appealing about Gustav Deutsch’s “Film ist.” that made you want to participate in New Music for Found Footage?
"The people of CineSonic approached me because they thought that my abstract ambient music would go well with “Film Ist.”. When I experimented with some combinations of the almost silent film-like material and some of my rather dark and abstract sound collages, I immediately had the feeling that they fit together really well."

How does the music we will hear during New Music for Found Footage come into being? Did you prepare a soundtrack or will you be creating it from scratch during the film?
"While producing, I have tried to create musical accents and developments that, at certain points, should be understood as synchronous to the pictures. Therefore I have decided on a “soundtrack” concept which I can complement and thicken through mixing and additional sounds during the performance."

Similar to Deutsch, in your musical and your visual works, you deform and recontextualise samples. Does music offer more possibilities, or freedom, to work with samples than visual media do?
“Sampling” is one of the important leitmotifs in my artistic work, be it musical or visual. I wouldn’t say that one of the two disciplines offers more or less artistic possibilities. To me, they are interdependent and correspondent at the same time."

In some of your works, such as the Kafkatrax or the Fussballbilder, you do not mask the origin of the samples completely. In other works, the origin is not recognizable at all. What do you base these decisions on and how do they influence the artistic process?
"Leaving sources and original material recognizable – or making them unrecognizable – has always been an important subject in my working process. On the one hand, it can be interesting to leave the sources more or less recognizable, to name them, to highlight them. In terms of: look/hear what I made of this. On the other hand, referencing or leaving sources recognizable, often distracts from the result."
"Today, I increasingly work in ways that leave the source unrecognizable, that remove the original meaning (Entdeutung). The “sample” is merely aesthetic original material for what I make of it. But even if one doesn’t recognize the source anymore, the fact that the source lies behind it is still essential to the work."

Which role do copyrights play in the process of sampling? Would you say that the method is restricted by rights – or is today’s constellation of copyrights, sampled and sampling musicians in balance?
"In terms of copyright, sampling is and will stay forbidden. But it always depends on, as I said before, whether a sample is recognizable and who does what with it. In single cases, there is always the possibility to neatly request a license for use of the images/music from the author. In the spirit of the freedom of art, this topic needs to be treated with tolerance. Where would we be without Warhol’s Marilyn?"

Text: AM