open haus

21 / 05 / 1999 -
Opening : Institution / Architecture / Media / Program / Identity / ...

open haus

Architecture Renovation / Restructuring
Website concept / realisation for institution and program

"Shooters Bar" from Melrose Place TV Series (1997)
Mel Chin / GALA Committee

Audio Plug-In
Metal Machine Music (1975) RCA
Lou Reed.

Print Plug-In
Footnote Library 1 - "Spatial Narratives" (1991)

Mark Rakatansky

Video Plug-In
Trailer 1980 / 99

Künstlerhaus / haus.0

Image l. label, Metal Machine Music, Lou Reed, RCA 1975; r. installation view of MMM in Künstlerhaus


open haus: Audio Plug-In

Sound is still one experience which defines the boundaries between divergent kinds of cultural institutions. The haus.0 audio Plug-in will develop along selected topics, sound projects of the electronic audio-culture, ranging from silence to feedback. The Plug-in opens through a post-1975 artist / pop music culture dialogue on position and production, which was and remains articulated through the new mixes of electronic signals and audience.

Detail - Album Cover Metal Machine Music, Lou Reed, 1975

The American rock and roll-iconoclast Lou Reed was invited to reintroduce one of his most contested solo projects, Metal Machine Music (RCA, 1975) for the first Audio Plug-In within the framework of the exhibition "open haus". Metal Machine Music is still unavailable today in any authorised reissue. The new work reflects Lou Reed's decision on the nature of his participation - to produce Metal Machine Music clearer and sharper than before.

Metal Machine Music is considered to be seen, to quote critic V. Bockris as "the ultimate conceptual punk album and the progenitor of New York punk rock." The position was corroborated by the first issue of Punk, that era's seminal zine, which placed Reed and the album on the cover of its inaugural issue. That act indicates how the production reflected pivotal shifts underway in American by 1975, from all sides and cultural categories, that would inform the next decade.

Lou Reed has always represented his ideas specifically through an American 'rock' format, partly in order to play against the implied limits. Thus despite offers from RCA to move the title over to its classical division, Reed insisted that Metal Machine Music remains within the rock division. In terms of audience and producer, exactly which defining limits are being recognised remains a key issue. As Reed stated:

"What I've always thought is that I'm doing rock and roll in drag. If you just listen to the songs cursorily, they come of like rock and roll, but if you really pay attention, then they are in a way the quintessence of the rock-and-roll song, except they're not rock and roll."

Interview, 1977, dir. Michael Pilz

Interviewer: "Do you manipulate the audience by your music or your lyrics?"
Lou Reed: "I'm not in the audience, so I don't know."
Interviewer: "You have to know, otherwise you wouldn't be succesful."
LR: "No - it's the other way around: I don't know and that's why I am succesful."

Excerpt from an interview with Lou Reed, Dir. Michael Pilz (1977)

LB:"But listen, I was cruising in my car with Metal Machine Music blaring the other day, when this beautiful girl crossing at a light smiled and winked at me!" (A true story).
He cackled. "Are you sure it was a girl?"
"Well, yeah, reasonably as you can be these days."

Excerpt from Lester Bangs interview with Lou Reed, Creem magazine (1976)

Metal Machine Music is an extreme condensation of the basic rock music production plot: a recording artist personality, and an electronic recording studio. Together this closed system of energy / information has the ability to produce feedback and distortions - far different than earlier avant-garde versions. As well, the record reflects another feedback mechanism at work, as a logical extension of a contemptuous love/hate that spills out to include mainstream audiences, major labels - the dynamic in other words of contemporary music market culture. Joined with Reed's use of shape-shifting, gendered characters and his belief in the recording act itself as the performative site of a complex narrative of media, music and identity, Metal Machine Music, like Reed's career, wasn't going to fit exactly within existing mainstream definitions. Thus it signals the kind of communication enabled by the moment in America and in Reed's biography, that gets brought together by the recording and record. As Reed himself stated in the Metal Machine Music album notes:

"Realism was the key, the records were letters. Real letters from me to certain other people. Who had and still have basically no music, be it verbal or instrumental, to listen to."

haus.0 introduces Metal Machine Music as one possible navigator through which many routes are able to plotted out as the program continues.

see also Audio Plug-In