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A virtual exhibition tour with Wolfgang Tillmans

mumok insider

In November 2021, on the occasion of the opening of his exhibition Sound Is Fluid, Wolfgang Tillmans spoke about some of his works with curator Matthias Michalka during a virtual exhibition tour. Their conversation addressed the sensual experience that Tillmans captures with his camera, his current album Moon in Earthlight, and his early enthusiasm for astronomy and outer space, as well specific works in the exhibition, such as the picture that shares the same name as the exhibition, Sound Is Liquid.

A Poetical Paradox

The titles of Wolfgang Tillmans’s works alone do not say so much. The artist sees them rather as tasters, spices, or possible approaches. “Sound Is Liquid occurred to me as a poetical paradox. The idea of making sounds visible and thinking about different combined states were very present for me at the time.” A visit to tropical regions then inspired this image.

Frozen Movement

“I was in the tropics and experienced a massive rainstorm. And in the darkness I thought: Is it actually possible to photograph rain without it showing up as lines?” Tillmans says. Throughout the whole of cultural history rain is mostly represented as lines, and not as single drops. “Here is it really is possible now to see rain as single drops, frozen in the air—frozen by the camera. In reality the whole thing was of course an extremely loud affair with a roaring clatter. And the sound is also frozen within this two-thousandth of a second.”

Technology and Art: New Opportunities

A work like Sound Is Liquid would not have been technically possible a few years ago. Technical aspects of photography are not particularly in the foreground of Wolfgang Tillmans’s work, and yet the enormous technical progress of the past decade has changed his work: “In the last ten years so much has fundamentally changed, and I have placed that at the center of my work. Thinking about the world in images is always also connected with the question as to HOW: How do we depict the world?”

Find the virtual exhibition tour here.