Stefan Paulus is a scientist, multimedia artist and adventurer. His theoretical practice is rooted in the concepts of ‘Smooth Spaces’ and ‘Body-without-Organs’ developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, while his works and expeditions are influenced by the Situationists and their concepts of “derive” and psychogeography. Paulus has produced a large number of sonic and visual works, including videos, double exposures, photo essays, field recordings and notes, radio broadcasts, reportages, collages, and soundscapes. Since the 2000s, Paulus has published essays and books on the theory of society and agency of subjects. His multimedia works can be viewed on his blog https://nowhere-nowhere.org/
Stratum is based on analog double and multi exposures photographs as well as audio and video field recordings made by Stefan Paulus through mountain expeditions in the Swiss Alps, the Caucasus, and the Arctic Circle—documenting stormy weather, high alpine winds, avalanches, and sounds emanating from glaciers and from the insides of crevices and caves. Beside the photo series “BwO” (35mm black and white film, 2017 https://nowhere-nowhere.org/2017/11/26/bwo/) and “Straten” (35mm color film, 2018-2019 https://nowhere-nowhere.org/2019/12/10/straten/), Paulus created ambient noisescapes and videos from the recordings by splicing and folding them into hundreds of layers of sound and film: an analog to the geological strata of their geographic sources and an analog of the “stratum” (Deleuze/Guattari, ATP, 39ff). When Deleuze and Guattari ask how to make a body-without-organs, their instruction to set oneself up on a stratum, a layer of rocks, can also be understood literally. In heights, on contour lines, between debris, water, mudslides, on firn ridges and sedimentary rocks, not only can one escape the terrible alphabet, the cutting, incising and encircling, the scarification and mutilation of the socius, but it is also a physical experience. The crashing and cracking of ice surfaces, the indiscernable in the snowstorm, the howling of the winds in stone deserts, even the amazement at the vastness and openness of the glaciers with endless skies and clouds, “is more a tactile or rather ‘haptic’ and more sonorous than a visual space” (Deleuze/Guattari, ATP, 526).
In crating superpositions in sound, video, photo it is not the nature of the sound or the picture that determines perception, but the consistency of the sound and picture that enables a reference to the material. Through this molecular processing of Field Recordings, it is possible to create de-territorializations of ritornellos and planes of consistency that do not organize and stratify the sound like scores, but rather cuts (cut-ups), foldings and superpositions cause the raw material to loose its function, its dominant and hierarchizing tendencies and the schemata of perception. This can lead to the production of several layers of reality and of illusion- and compensation-spaces. Sounds and pictures of micro- and macrocosm, past and present, man and machine etc. connect. A relativization of reality is created by unsettling the system and the schemata of perception that are taken for granted (Deleuze/Guattari, ATP, 13, 64, 218, 446). These deterritorializations simultaneously create possibilities for de-chronicization, non-selective perception, de-subjectification, and exploration of these percepts. The deterritorialization of the raw material becomes part of a profound “dimension of creation in a nascent state, perpetually in advance of itself” and thereby develops a “power of emergence subsuming the contingency and hazards of activities that bring immaterial Universes into being” (Guattari, Chaosmosis. An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm, transl. P. Bains/J. Pefanis, 1995, 102).
Automatisme & Stefan Paulus ‘Säntis’ from the album Gap/Void (2022), Constellation, CST164, 180gLP/CD/DL, Video
In early 2021, Paulus approached Automatisme (the Canadian musician and conceptual artist William Jourdain) with a proposal based on his field recordings. The resulting audio mixes, compounding a multiplicity of spatio-temporal excursions. The album Gap/Void leads with five rhythmic tracks (cut to 33rpm LP) that feature Automatisme’s trademark interstitial digital synthesis and elastic/erratic signal processing, in combination with his own crate-digging ‘expeditions’ through obscure 1970s-80s disco 12-inches, deconstructing their scores and structures to bring these micro-samples and sensibilities back to bear on Paulus’ deterritorialized sedimental source material. Five additional tracks are selections of the original ambient/drone works by Paulus, with granular reprocessing by Automatisme. The album accomplishes this mission, framing its wider context of psychogeographic research with the five ambient with images from Paulus’ mountain camera.