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Collections Browse Tonbild (Sound Picture)

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Courtesy Walker Art Center
Rights
Copyright retained by the artist

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Title
Tonbild (Sound Picture)
Artist
Dieter Roth
Date
1975–1988
Dimensions
overall installed 78.75 × 40.375 × inches
Materials
oil, plexiglass, cassette players, wood; Polaroid photograph, ink on paper
Location
Not on view

Object Details

Type
Mixed Media (Multimedia)
Accession Number
1995.10.1-.2
Inscriptions
In ink LR next to far R cassette recorder “Tonbild von Dieter Roth/(mit Björn Roth) angefangen 1975/aufgegeben 12 May 1988/Dieter Roth”; In ink LR next to far R cassette recorder “Tonbild von Dieter Roth/(mit Björn Roth) angefangen 1975/aufgegeben 12 May 1988/Dieter Roth”
Physical Description
The framed certificate may but does not have to be exhibited with the work.
Printer
N.A.
Credit Line
T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1995

object label Dieter Roth, Tonbild (1975-1988) Walker Art Center, 1999

It’s important to exhibit your mistakes. Man is not perfect. Neither are his creations. I’ve given up using sour milk. Instead I use music. I sometimes fasten a tape recorder onto paintings or objects and have the music pour over the spectator/listener. This creates a certain effect: those who look at the art don’t realize how bad it is when they hear the music. For the music is even worse. Two bad things make one good thing.–Dieter Roth, 1978

For some 40 years, Dieter Roth’s work has incorporated nontraditional materials, ranging from organic substances that include chocolate and cheese to ephemeral elements such as sound and light. This three-dimensional work is an assemblage of diverse materials from the artist’s studio. In this piece, one hears layers of sound–separate recordings emitting from five cassette players, which include a tune from the music box in the upper left corner of the work and the ambient sounds in Roth’s studio as he created the piece.

When Roth stopped working on Tonbild in 1988, four of the nine tape decks had ceased to play and had been marked “kaput” by the artist. It was his intention that all the tape recorders should play until they broke, a process of deterioration that reversed his process of creation. However, because of the Walker’s mission to preserve the works it collects, the sound you hear is not coming from the cassette players but from a laserdisc recording of them.

Label text for Dieter Roth, Tonbild (1975-1988), from the exhibition Art in Our Time: 1950 to the Present, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 1999 to September 2, 2001.

Copyright 1999 Walker Art Center

object label Dieter Roth, Tonbild (Sound Picture) (1975-1988) Walker Art Center, 1998

For some 40 years, Dieter Roth’s work has incorporated nontraditional materials, ranging from organic substances such as chocolate and cheese to ephemeral elements suchas sound and light. This three-dimensional work is an assemblage of such materials from the artist’s studio. The layers of sound–which one hears in separate recordings playing of five cassette players–include a tune from the music box in the upper left corner, recorded and re-recorded several times, and the ambient sounds in Roth’s studio as he created this work.

When Roth stopped working on this piece in 1988, four of the nine tape decks had already ceased to play and had been marked “kaput” by the artist. It was his intention that all the tape recorders should play until they broke, a process of deterioration that reversed his process of creation. However, because of our institutional mission to preserve the works we collect, the sound you hear is not coming from the cassette players but from a laser disk recording of them made by our staff.

Label text for Dieter Roth, Tonbild (Sound Picture) (1975-1988), from the exhibition Selections from the Permanent Collection, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, December 8, 1996 to April 4, 1999.

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center