Deafness Evidence

The Titan has human attributes

Marco Montiel-Soto is a non-stop and passionate artist originally from the world of photography but who also works with all media within his reach as he strives to create his very own universe.   One aspect of his artwork focuses on a collection of discarded objects which he uses to create installations that portray imaginary relationships.   His symphonic cycles sound like visual compositions while his audible world is shaped by both visible and invisible materials.   In this day and age of overabundance of media at one’s disposal, Marco Montiel-Soto meticulously searches for the resources he will use to express his ideas and he playfully links them to any material or medium.

The video, Deafness evidence, was originally created for the sound exhibition “Sonotopia”, held at the Beethovenhalle of Bonn, Germany.   All the work displayed in the exhibition is related to the city of Bonn and especially Beethoven.   The relationship between space, sound and our acoustic understanding of urban areas in general also plays a part.

Deafness evidence was the only sound work presented without sound itself.   The plot deals with Beethoven’s increasing deafness which he never really admitted to except for one handwritten testimony called the “Heiligenstadt Testament”.   It is the only document written by Beethoven in which he expresses his despair over his increasing deafness and where he also confesses that he has even considered committing suicide.   Moreover, he admits to his own failings since he never dared to ask people to speak more loudly or even shout although he was already deaf.   Ludwig van Beethoven was only 31 years old when wrote these words on October 6, 1802 while resting at the village of Heiligenstadt.   The letter was addressed to his brothers but was never sent.  He kept the document hidden in a secret drawer in his desk where it was discovered after his death in 1827 along with several other letters for his mysterious “Immortal beloved”.

It has long been argued whether this testament was actually written by Beethoven.  The cult of genius surrounding the composer finds the image of a depressed and disparaging man to be incompatible.   Even today, this document is a reading included in evening prayers by respected German actors.

In the video Deafness evidence, a deaf person translates this famous testament into sign language.   A very simple technique is used to film the interpretation:  in a single fixed frame and shot as if in a portrait with a neutral background, the protagonist in formal dress seems to directing an orchestra when in reality he is reading the testament.

This highly conceptual work not only raises questions about the relationship between image and sound, sound and context, but also forces us to confront the conventional image of himself that Beethoven created throughout his life.

Carsten Seiffarth, 2010