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Daniel Jacoby

Für Elise de Ludwig van Beethoven en orden de tono

(Für Elise by Ludwig Van Beethoven in Tone Order), 2009

Video installation | Video and framed score
Video: 5’59” Score: 29.7 x 84 cm

A framed sheet of blank music paper. Next to it a screen. Minimalist rigour. In a perfectly photographed static shot, a tail-coated pianist takes his seat and begins to play. The notes develop a linear crescendo in which there is no very clear distinction between cadence and stridency, in a kind of progressive singsong. Although we follow the movement of the pianist’s hands and arms, the audio imposes itself on the static spectrum of the visual, making the ultimately captivating absence of acoustic harmony a kind of ridiculous challenge to the connotations of sobriety offered by the images.

What is the meaning of all this? To answer the question we need only turn to the title: Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven in Order of Pitch. It is not, then, a case of simply wrecking the tune of the famous piece, or of discrediting the rigour of the performance that is automatically associated with the culture to which the composer belongs, which would seem to be endorsed by the knowing gesture of putting the credits in German. These are side effects — touches of irony that are deployed naturally, as an added value — in the exercises in reordering the world to be found in the works produced by Daniel Jacoby between 2007 and 2009.

In his obsessive analysis and questioning of the logics of information and the hierarchies that govern what we consider to be real, Jacoby spent the early part of his artistic career to applying the systems of measurement of science to other spheres linked to everyday life, the media or specific work contexts. By making hypothetically futile applications of strict methodologies in seemingly capricious scenarios he lays bare the relativity of the modes of reading and cataloguing with which we set out to engage with certain aspects of existence.

With a tone that is more playful than otherwise, with the rigour of a researcher, often working with people from other creative or scientific fields, and inspired by a minimalist aesthetic and ethic which he leavens with a good deal irony, Jacoby approaches reality from odd angles, decontextualizing the elements he uses from their internal logic, stretching their parameters to new possible meanings or simply to nonsense.

A print publication with the weather forecast for 20 February for the next hundred years in Mollet del Vallès; a sound piece with the 79 instances of the word ‘you’ on the Beatles album Abbey Road; a video with the 271 instances of the word ‘no’ in the film A Clockwork Orange; another video with all the words of the first ten minutes of a public speech by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in alphabetical order; a shop window with graphs charting the chromatic breakdown of the covers of the four largest-circulation Spanish newspapers over one month; a metric calculation of the size of the concepts of large and small, or the rearranging by height of all the books in a library are among the most iconic works of this process.

Together with A Toblerone of Exactly 50 g 491 Toblerones of Approximately 50 g — in which an exhaustive comparative study was conducted to find the chocolate bar with the exact weight indicated on the packaging was followed up by an exhibition, a print publication and the handing out of free Toblerones — Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven in Order of Pitch represents the coming to full artistic maturity of the series of works that constitute the first stage in Daniel Jacoby’s oeuvre. This conclusion of a stage is also a turning point, prior to the methodological bootlegging between the verifiable and the speculative made way for the narrativity that has oriented his projects since then.

Alex Brahim

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