Artists Space

Ellen Fullman & Konrad Sprenger

May 3, 2024, 7pm

While playing the long string instrument, I have liked to think of my body in miniature, moving forward and back almost like the pendulum swing in hypnosis.

—Ellen Fullman

Artists Space is pleased to present two weeks of legendary sound artist and composer Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument, with performances on Friday evenings April 26 and May 3 and a continuous installation on view.

Black-and-white photograph of a figure, walking in the middle of the frame between two sets of suspended wires that run from across the room. The figures hands manipulate the wires on each side of them.
Other Minds, San Francisco. Photo: John Fago [Black-and-white photograph of a figure, walking in the middle of the frame between two sets of suspended wires that run from across the room. The figures hands manipulate the wires on each side of them.]

Installation on view:
Wednesday, April 24 - Friday, May 3

Additional concerts:
Friday, April 26, 7pm
Friday, May 3, 9pm

For the past 40 years, Ellen Fullman (b. Memphis, 1957) has dedicated herself to a singular artistic pursuit: the Long String Instrument. This remarkable installation comprises dozens of tuned strings, each stretching fifty feet or more, effectively turning architectural space into a site-specific musical instrument. Through her compositions, collaborations, and improvisations, Fullman immerses herself and her audience within this vast resonating body, delving into the unique acoustics of each environment.

Since the early 1980s, Fullman has been refining the Long String Instrument, a process that typically involves several days of meticulous installation and tuning to adapt to a specific space. Moving amidst the strings, she plays the instrument by "bowing" with rosin-coated fingertips. Her project encompasses the study of Just Intonation tuning theory, a compositional practice centered on string harmonics, experiments with various wire alloys and gauges, and the design and fabrication of wooden resonators.

Fullman has developed a distinct notation system to choreograph her movements, guiding her exploration of sonic events at specific nodal point locations along the instrument's length. As she navigates this multi-tiered sonic landscape, she utilizes her entire body to amplify the resulting artifacts. In Fullman's own words: the “sound” itself of my instrument is my composition. I shaped the timbre through instrument design and performance techniques. I am not satisfied to leave it at that, however. My intention is to craft compositional forms that emerge out of the material of the sound itself.

After graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute with a BFA in Sculpture, Ellen Fullman began developing The Long String Instrument in her St. Paul, Minnesota studio in 1980 and moved to Brooklyn the following year. Inspired by composer and instrument builder Harry Partch and Alvin Lucier’s Music on a Long Thin Wire, Fullman's large-scale work creates droning, organ-like overtones that are as unique in the world of sound as her vision of the instrument itself. Through her research in just intonation tuning theory, string harmonics and musical instrument design, Fullman has developed a compositional and performative approach that expands harmonic motion through a focus on upper partial tones.

She has recorded extensively with this unusual instrument and has collaborated with such luminary figures as Pauline Oliveros, choreographer Deborah Hay, the Kronos Quartet, Keiji Haino, Konrad Sprenger, Theresa Wong and Okkyung Lee. The Long String Instrument has resonated architectural spaces in festivals across the world including Rewire, The Hague; Musica Festival, Strasbourg; Tectonics Festival Athens, and The Sydney Festival. Awards include: Guggenheim Fellowship, Music Composition (2020); Gerbode Foundation, Special Awards in the Arts (2020); Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award, Music/Sound (2015); and DAAD, Artists-In-Berlin Program residency (2000). Her recordings include: Harbors (Room40, 2020) a collaboration with Theresa Wong, and The Long String Instrument (Superior Viaduct, 2015) first issued on Apollo Records in 1985 and selected as the number one reissue for 2015 by the Wire. Her release Ort, with Berlin-based collaborator Konrad Sprenger, was selected in the top 50 recordings of 2004 by The Wire. Her work was cited by Alvin Lucier in his book, Music 109: Notes on Experimental Music (Wesleyan University Press, 2012).

Konrad Sprenger the pseudonym of Berlin-based composer, artist, music producer and instrument builder Joerg Hiller. In his own work and in numerous collaborative projects, Hiller works in the intersection of performance, installation, composition and research. Hiller’s work is characterized by gradually unfolding patterning of precisely controlled harmonic and rhythmic structures, and makes use of both synthetic sounds and acoustic instruments of his own creation. Recent work includes multi-channel live performances centered around a computer-controlled electric guitar continuously tuned and strummed by electronically driven mechanics. Since 2017, Hiller and his collaborator Philip Sollmann have been developing and presenting Modular Organ System, a large-scale sound installation integrating both conventional organ pipes and extended pipes and horns of their own design. Other long-standing collaborations include work with Arnold Dreyblatt, Ellen Fullman, Oren Ambarchi, Rom, Ei, Ethnostress and the artist collective Honey-Suckle Company. As a producer and engineer, Hiller has also worked on solo records for Ambarchi, Dreyblatt, Fullman. Hiller’s work has been presented in exhibitions and performances internationally, and released on renowned record labels such as PAN, A-Ton and Schoolmap.

Artists Space Venue is generously supported by Stephen Cheng, Lonti Ebers, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Allan Schwartzman, and David Zwirner.