Stephan von Huene (1932-2000) ranks among the founders of contemporary sound and media art. Born in Los Angeles as son of German immigrants, the artist constructed complex audio-kinetic installations starting in the late 1960s, in which he explored the specific properties of sound and language.
Already in his early works, collaged pictures and drawings from the beginning of the 1960s, motifs can be found that recurred again and again in his work and give clues to the later sound sculptures. These include the use of fragments of the human body and the superimposition of scraps of words and expressive gestures.
In 1964, he creates his first assemblage paintings and sculptural objects made of wood and leather. From 1967 von Huene constructs complex audio-kinetic sculptures that combine sound and language, sound and space in different ways. The sound installations and machine-bodies only become complete through the participation of the audience: Motion detectors and acoustic sensors pick up reactions from the viewers and thereby trigger the activity of the sound sculptures. Drawings are also an important component of his work.
For the development of his concepts, von Huene often drew on insights from linguistics and behavioral research. In his installations, language is as much a means of communication as it is the source material for transforming the spoken word into sound or movement.
The Stephan von Huene archive was transferred to the ZKM | Karlsruhe in 2016. The collection comprises approx. 7 meters. Among them are numerous work files of Stephan von Huene's main works, such as »TischTänzer«, »Totem Tones«, »Glas Pipes«, »Drums«, »What's Wrong with Art«, »Lexichaos« and the »Neue Lore Ley«. The work-specific records include designs, drawings, schematics, computer programs, newspaper clippings, and sketches, as well as numerous documentary materials. Also part of the archive are the extensive correspondence collections since the 1980s and documents on Stephan von Huene's publication and exhibition projects. The archive is supplemented by the artist's library, which contains around 750 publications.