GRAF+ZYX

Founded in 1981

Biography

Inge Graf

born 1949 in Vienna; lives in Vienna and Lower Austria

Studies at Institut für Heimerziehung (Institute for Residential Education)

Degree in political science and journalism at the University of Vienna

Starting in 1977 studies in photography and film, as from 1980 at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in the master class of Oswald Oberhuber


Walter Zyx

born 1950 in Vienna; lives in Vienna and Lower Austria

Studies in classical violin

Degree in Indian music from Istituto Canneti in Vicenza (studying the dilruba under Acharya Manfred Heinrich Junius)

Degree in psychology and philosophy from the University of Vienna

From mid-1970s: Explores electronic music

From 1980: Explores experimental video


Since 1981: Collective project and exhibition activities under the name GRAF+ZYX; »medium-synthetic programs« in the field of video and computer art, web and database design as well as programming, video sculpture, and furniture objects

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

The artist duo GRAF+ZYX originated in the mid-1970s. Inge Graf, who at that time was active in the field of residential care and education, produced a photo series about institutionalized children in Klosterneuburg; Walter Zyx started out by recording compositions, initially on the violin using the pseudonyms Ronder Tor and Roter Rot. Zyx quickly turned to electronic sound production, while Graf’s photographic practice, at that time under the artist name Souza Starfighter, turned increasingly in the direction of ornate, alienated portraits. At the end of the 1970s, they began to fuse their activities together, and since 1981 their works have been produced exclusively under the joint name GRAF+ZYX. At that time, they worked primarily in the field of electronic music, which was embedded in the videos they produced.

In 1983 they expanded their activities into galleries, where they created electronic environments and what they called »mediasynthetic programs.« In addition to their installations, which usually consisted of film projections and audiotapes, they created video sculptures and furniture objects (e.g., Raum-Schiff, 1988). GRAF+ZYX produced TV commercials (e.g., for Humanic, 1984) and were active early on as graphic and web designers (responsible, for example, for the corporate design of Kunsthalle Vienna, 1992). Since 2012 they have operated the project and studio space TANK 203.3040.AT in Neulengbach, Lower Austria.

Music

Music

In 1977, Walter Zyx began to work with what at that time were the new synthetic means for producing sounds. (The first official recording under the pseudonym Roter Rot appeared in 1981 on the sampler WienmusikK; a further publication followed in 2010 on the compilation Neonbeats.) In 1981 under the artist name ZYX—the name suggests a melodious inversion of the dominant (alphabetical) order—the record Trust No Woman appeared, which today is considered a classic of minimal wave or, to be more precise, of the early synth-pop movement.

Mantra-like repetitions, mostly bleak verbal incantations (»Get Away Wisdom,« »When Darkness Comes«) enter into congenial connection with mysterious, pulsing loop compositions. Further, GRAF+ZYX produced elaborate track series, which were used as sound components in their cross-media installations (for instance, at the Töne-Gegentöne Festival, Ars Electronica, or Steirischer Herbst).

As a continuation of this principle they continue to work on »media-synthetic« extended environments, which find their contemporary expression in productions like Mörder Redux (2015/2016, in reference to Oskar Kokoschka’s theater piece Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen) and Dada Negligé (2016).

In the Exhibition

In the Exhibition

GRAF+ZYX

Striptease, 1983, with Inge Graf, 2:52 min.

Film: GRAF+ZYX

Eissalon at the Galerie Insam in Vienna. The concept alone—nine »chapters« were shown in three film projections along with an audiotape soundtrack—indicated that here too the work is about a synthesis of media components and their outsourcing into appropriategadgets. The artists were present but did not intervene »live« in the course of events. For the visual part of Striptease, they held a video performance, then copied it onto Super 8 film, developing and solarizing it to create a matte gold tone with faint negative effects. The performance is based on Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece, but in this case the artist (Graf) cut holes in the elastic full-body suit herself. Just as the act of perforation refers entirely to itself—or rather to the artist’s own body sheath—it appears that the musical piece also moves in a trance-like circle. »I look out / Of my eyes / See the clouds / Of my eyes« are the lyrics from the 1977 track, which here receives a further reinterpretation. At the end, Striptease frames the musical act of dance in a logo-like circle—a charming minimal self-branding, of the kind only early media art could achieve.

Author:

Christian Höller