Erwin Schulhoff’s “In Futurum” for solo piano (1919) contains only rests in both hands, ornamented by cryptic articulations like question marks, smiles made of slurs, and absurd directions (“play the whole piece with expression and feeling freely, always, to the very end!“).
This silent sound installation uses light to “play” an interpretation of Schulhoff’s Dadaist piece, exploring the rhythmic phrasing and counterpoint between the carefully notated rests while respecting its lack of sonic presence.
Schulhoff’s career was cut short by the Nazis, who declared his music “degenerate,” and he died in a concentration camp in 1942.
The piano is thwarted as a sound-maker in “In Futurum,” becoming a boneyard of felt, wood, and wire. Schulhoff’s silent music pulses through the broken instrument, hauntingly alive as rhythmic light.