Der musikalische Affe II, Gedächtnis und Musik   Austria   2000


It?s a proven fact that the stock of prime numbers is, to all intents and purposes, infinite. A number is described as prime if it has no whole denominators except 1 and itself. Examples are 1, 3, 7, 11? 103, 123461 etc. The cyclical randomness, albeit perfect symmetry, of their structure serves as a point of departure for many mathematicians? research. The famous Riemannian theorem, for example, is one of many attempts that have been made to describe and explain prime numbers. Very high prime numbers are highly prized by computer technicians for their usefulness in the encryption of data. Many gaps in our understanding of such numbers - dubbed ?unsolved prime number problems? ? represent the undiscovered jewels in the world of mathematics.

In his incarnation as ?musical monkey? the artist Rudolf Polanszky is a numbers theoretician who uses prime numbers in the course of his research: they and the space dimension provide him with the notes for his music. Polanszky?s theory is based on the assumption that music is closely related to numbers. The musician and mathematician Mazzola also published evidence to this effect in his The Topos of Music, the result of 20 years of study: music is an exact science and everything connected with it ? from rhythm and harmony to metric form, composition and even reciprocity - must therefore be expressible as a mathematical formula.

Polanszky?s formulae aim to use a number of different instruments to represent and illustrate prime number relationships. His Der musikalische Affe II (Musical Monkey II) installation shows the three stages of his experiment. The first monitor sequence shows the artist with a wire twisted into a spiral. When movement is introduced the spiral and Polanszky become producers of possible observation points. Separation into prime numbers occurs with tiny flags of material attached to the spirals. The wire symbolizes the zero line, with the possible positions of a given ?prime number flag? relative to the position of prime number flag X being represented as a set of solutions that, in mathematical terms, tends to infinity.

In the second monitor sequence Polanszky uses one of his familiar tactics: he creates analogue data out of the data he has generated. The randomly produced positions of the prime number flags are reordered for expression as notes ? a pattern that allows him to translate the respective coordinates into tonal form.

?It is my opinion that we are continually inventing systems. This constructivist approach to the world is probably necessary if the world itself is to be interpreted.? (Rudolf Polanszky in conversation with Rosa v. Suess).

In the third sequence Polanszky illustrates his creation of sounds using an instrument. He plays the notes that the Polanszky system has produced. Meanwhile the Wiener Fassung concentrates on the cello, trombone and accordion as part of the rounded composition.

(Rosa Suess)


Rudolf Polanszky, 2003

Galerie Hohenlohe & Kalb, Wien, Austria


stereo color PAL

Technical protocol

VHS (recording); post production using recent recording and version filmed from monitor following modifications; VHS (master); DVD (master copy)

Edition: (10-print run; signed and numbered)
Cassette box 37 x 29 x 8 cm:
one video tape (VHS), nine photo prints 28 x 20 cm

Wiener Fassung
1 (9) monitors, 1 (9) playback devices, 1-channel insertion;
9 photo displays, each with 8 photos 40 x 28 cm,
Original in collage form, signed, framed and glazed, 120 x 100 cm


Wiener Fassung


Rudolf Polanszky

Copy to see

Niederösterreichisches Landesmuseum, St. Pölten, Medienkunstarchiv Wien

Rudolf Polanszky
Benedikt Ledebur im Gespräch mit R. Polanszky: in "Der Ficker", Wien 2005