Marianne Nagel, “Trockenstress und ein Funke (Drought stress and a spark)”



Marianne Nagel
Leipzig, Germany

Trockenstress und ein Funke (Drought stress and a spark)
Artbook made of: one-of a kind machine drawing, touch sensor, transducer, cardboard, paper, sound, screenprint, graphite
box: 11 x 3,9 x 3,9 inches, paper: 55 x 9,8 inches

Artist Statement

Artist Statement and description of the book: Mind and intuition, the before and after, the haptics of the material and the fleetingness of a touch form the basis of my artist books. In them, I search for processes that usually run under our radar – be they too mundane or apart from our senses – and try to find images, forms or sounds for them. Meandering between science and my imagination, translated into words, graphics, embossing or folding techniques, I give form to the scratching of fingernails on wood or show how sound waves waft through the body.

My newest work „Trockenstress und ein Funke“ occupys itself with the dying of trees because of climate change and espacially having drought stress. I try to approach the topic via 3 ways.

During the last 3 years it got very obvious to see how much big old threes and whole forests suffer from climate change in Germany. Like many people, I am very attached and moved by this fact. Thats why, I wanted to do an artwork about it.

I have a forester in my family who took me out to the forest last summer and told me a lot about the situation of the trees, who suffers of what, how it is connected to the soil and water. I recorded it all – especially because I didn’t want to write it down. While thinking about how to incorporate all these facts – I did not want to do a non-fiction book, I had the idea to let it be drawn by the „Tonschreiber“. This drawing machine is made by the artist and friend of mine Alex Rex. It combines a loudspeaker with a pen. As I let audios play, the pen moves very fast, like a seismograph. But it doesn’t draw all on its own. Like a sewing machine I have to move the paper and can manipulate the lines while moving fast or slow or doing shapes. I am very interested in converting sounds into something visible with the help of funny machines. So I wanted to work with this machine for a long time – but hadn’t found the right topic yet. Using the „Tonschreiber“ for the recorded speaking of my relative, I was surprised that it looked like a landscape or a forest!

Digesting all my new knowledge, I also reseached on my own, I got to the point that the book also needed my own access, my own personal view – so I wrote a poem (I send it as a pdf). And let it be screenprinted on the back of the machine-drawing.

The third layer is the acoustic path. For a long time I wanted to work with conductive paint. During my researches about the forests I found a swiss sound artist and researcher Marcus Maeder. I does great enviromental sound installations and to get the right sounds, he works together with different climate chance research stations in Switzerland. With their help he could record the sounds that pine trees make, while sucking water. It is in the ultra sound spectrum, but he converted it into for humans hearable sounds. And I was allowed to use one small audio for my book. But I did not want it to be an enviromental record but something connected to humans – something artistic. My partner Alexander Müller is a electronic musician and I asked him do the sound – and he did.

The most complicated part is the electronic and codeing part of the book. As I have nearly no idea of electronic work, but in my partner I found a big help. In the tube is a extra smaller tube with a printed circuit board, connected with an mp3 player, batterie, transducer and lots of cabels. My vision was to express the intimate connection that the recipient can have to an artist book, when he/she touches it. And also the intimate relation humans can/should have towards plants and trees. So know, when you touch the tube the graphite electronically conducts towards the circuit board and you can hear the musical approach to the sound that pine trees make – when you lift your hand, it stops. And goes on, when you touch it again. If you are interested, I can also send you a movie and a sound file of the book! For this book I receaved a lot of help: sound recordings by Marcus Mäder, music by Alexander Müller, drawing machine by Alex Rex and content support by Dr. Michael Schwarz.