Blog: Schmiede16 – Art Jam in Austria

Ray Mann’s postcards from Schmiede 2016: 10 days of creating things with strangers at the annual “playground for ideas” in Hallein, Austria.

This post will be live updated over September and October, so keep checking back.

This is my second time to be invited to participate, create, collaborate, and exhibit at the event. The Schmiede artist residency is held in the old Hallein Salt Mine in Salzburg, Austria – an amazing venue which, once a year, is host to a select group of creative minds from a wide range of disciplines: game designers, machine builders, electronics designers, coders, video artists, dancers, musicians, and more.


Day 1

Last year I participated in a bunch of other people’s projects – this year, I’ve decided to focus on my own. Somewhere within the sprawling, quirky spaces on the grounds, I found a space of my own – to produce, to present, and hopefully to collaborate. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile: peeking around my new neighbourhood…

Day 2

Spent half a day building my performance space – and then I pressed “play”. The sound in this room is like listening through an empty glass pressed up against a bathroom wall. I have work to do…

My setup:

Pictured (left to right): my backing vocalists; my band. #Schmiede16

A photo posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

Meanwhile, next door:

Day 3

“Visuals Wanted!” I put the call out for a projection artist, someone to cover the bare walls of my little room with some kind – any kind – of light that changes over time. “Your canvas.”

Meanwhile: beneath the salt mine…

Day 4

Somehow, I’ve ended up having to become a sound engineer. This isn’t what I’d originally planned to do – but that’s kind of what happens at Schmiede.

Meanwhile: my lovely neighbour Lisa-Marie has a kitchen and a sweet tooth. Lucky, lucky me.

Day 5

I’ve begun collaborating with video projection artist Martin Pühringer. Our first tests use glitchy VJ software and cheap night vision cameras:

Meanwhile: this the morning, some guys set up a little homebrew distillery outside my window. That night, they opened a pop-up bar next door…

The neighbours opened up some kind of #popup #bar… #Schmiede16

A video posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

Day 6

Martin’s visuals in the performance space are getting properly weird. The video montage he’s developing incorporates his photograph of the window (so from outside, the audience will see a window inside a window) and a live video feed from inside the space (which creates a performance inside the performance). Walter Benjamin might approve?

Meanwhile: between the Elektro and Boiler rooms…

#Sculpture in the #saltmine. #Schmiede16

A photo posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

Day 7

Our collaboration happens in shifts: I work on the audio by day, Martin works on the visuals by night. Our two puzzle pieces are yet to come together (and, given the motif of square / cube / grid shapes, I’m tempted to call them ‘slide puzzle pieces’, but whatever). Here’s how my piece is looking on its own, by day:

Meanwhile: the Schmiede16 Beat Battle – 4 hours, 6 samples, trapped in an old salt mine with a bunch of other arty types… here’s what I done did:

Day 8

I suspect my collaborator Martin is even more camera-shy than me – I barely even caught him for this snap. Perhaps that’s why for our performance, I’m in silhouette and he’s just plain hiding from the audience.

Meanwhile: in Österiche Denglisch Schüle…

And this may be the most Schmiede thing ever:

“#Mud #dancing with #DJ s for a #clay Ofen” – this one kinda sums up #Schmiede16

A video posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

It’s cold in my room! Between the 10 degrees temp outside, and rehearsing every day in front of an open window in a concrete-and-tiles cell, my newly-inherited poncho has become my bestie. Some of the Schmiede ladies have told me this is a “look”, and I should perform in it on the Werkschau. I try to explain how this is purely functional, but they aren’t having that…

#PonchoLyf #Schmiede16

A photo posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

My #art #residency roommate Kristina: #opera #singer by day, gin bar #madonna by night. #Schmiede16

A photo posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

Day 9


Earlier: Everybody’s prepping for the final Werkschau. It’s my first chance to get to see some of the things the other Smiths have been working on.

Day 10

Unlike last year, this year’s Schmiede participants (“Smiths”) seemed largely hidden away until Werkschau… or maybe that was just me. Anyways: i only got the chance to absorb *some* of the 70+ wildly eclectic, not-always-capturable pieces… I’mma post what I have when I can, so check back.

Katharina Rüter, ‘AtMOSSphere’. #Schmiede16

A video posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

#Schmiede #Rave.

A video posted by Ray Mann (@raymann3) on

And that was just a fraction of my Schmiede16 experience. ICYMI, there’s also my postcards from the previous year’s residency.

More information about Schmiede here.

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