The thematic and formal inspiration for Speicher is VariaVision—Unendliche Fahrt, a lost intermedia work on the subject of travel realized in 1965 by Alexander Kluge (texts), Edgar Reitz (films), and Josef Anton Riedl (music). A spatial installation with simultaneous screening and replay of films, multichannel music, and voice recordings, VariaVision offered new ways of perceiving music, film, and text.
Reitz and Kluge taught at the School of Design in Ulm. In the short period of its existence, from 1953–1968, the School exerted a strong influence on German and international design, art, and media history. The School of Design was a private institution. It resumed the forcibly terminated tradition of the Bauhaus, defining the concepts of modernism, utopia, design, everyday culture, education, sciences, and early digital culture in the spirit of a democratic and aesthetic new start in Germany after 1945.
In 1963 the School of Design became home to one of the first electronic studios in W. Germany, the Siemens Studio for Electronic Music set up in Munich in 1959. The studio with its new, purely electronically produced sounds was successfully used by international composers and music producers. Today it is housed at the Deutsches Museum, Munich. Riedl produced the music for VariaVision in this studio.
Michaela Melián brings the studio in the Deutsches Museum Munich back to life for Speicher. She records the studio’s sounds, tones, and noises, and makes them the basis of a new composition. Embedded in them, a polyvocal collage of texts on travel and movement is heard. There is no linear narration in Speicher, rather topics, stories, and time levels weave in and out of the present in sound loops and spirals. The camera moves slowly through a winter night, flying over the front and back of a drawing produced by sewing machine.
* The German noun “Speicher” covers a range of mutually related meanings: memory [computer terminology], storehouse, store, attic, reservoir.