Astrid Seme, Studio

graphic design

Contact

Große Neugasse 1/5
1040 Vienna
Austria

+43 677 620 440 05
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About

Astrid Seme is an independent graphic designer based in Vienna, Austria. She received her MA at Werkplaats Typografie, NL after graduating from University for Applied Arts, Vienna. Rooted within the fields of graphic design and typography her studio works in scopes such as art direction, visual identities, books and other printed matter, websites and editorial projects. In 2014 she received a residency at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels for her design work and sound based practice. She also co-runs Mark Pezinger Books, a publishing house and exhibition-platform for artists’ books.

Teaching, Talks

  • Jury. Design Graphique, ENSBA Lyon, FR
  • Oslo School of Architecture and Design, NO
  • supervising tutor at New Design University, AT
  • RISD, Rhode Island School of Design, US
  • Typojanchi. Conference at International Typography Biennial. Seoul, KR
  • Hochschule für Gestaltung Luzern, CH
  • I never Read, Radio Podcasts. Basel, CH
  • Salzburger Kunstverein, AT
  • Kunstuniversität Linz, AT
  • Fahrenheit39, Ravenna, IT
  • Sint Lucas School of Arts, Brussels, BE
  • Print Room, Rotterdam, NL
  • Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, AT
  • Kasseler Kunstverein, DE

Acknowledgements, Features

Exhibitions (selection)

  • Baroness Elsa’s em dashes (solo), BOEKS Ghent, BE
  • She Is The Future, Kunstverein Langenhagen, DE
  • Foresta Urbana, Museo Palazzo Belmonte Riso, Palermo, IT
  • Exposed Exhibitions – Fotoarchiv der Kunsthalle Basel. icw Doris Lasch; Kunsthalle Basel, CH
  • Den rechten Loon. Intersections/Art Rotterdam icw Rib, NL
  • No Reading, no Cry! Mark Pezinger at Graphic Studio/Museum of the City of Skopje, MK
  • Hotel Charleroi. Charleroi, BE
  • 9 to 5. Mark Pezinger at WIELS Contemporary Art Center, BE
  • Mark Pezinger works both ways – From Performance to Publication. FRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Marseille, FR
  • Mark Pezinger at Pioneer Works. NYC, US
  • I fail good. Beursschouwburg. Brussels, BE
  • Museo del arte contemporaneo. Santiago de Chile, CL
  • Reading disorders, thinking out loud. Mark Pezinger at Kasseler Kunstverein, DE
  • Mark Pezinger at Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen, CH
  • Electric Eclectics. Festival of experimental music and sound art, Ontario, CA
  • TONSPUR #41 (solo) Berlin, DE

“Work? It’s just serious play.” —Saul Bass
© Astrid Seme, 2021; Development: Ezekiel Aquino

As a graphic designer, the themes that have evolved out of my practice are also integral to my ongoing personal explorations into sound based works. These projects are focussed on dissecting discrepancies in form and content between the written and spoken word.

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Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes

Figures for dashing

The purpose of the em (or en) dash is wide-ranging —as an appropriation of silence, as acting dissonance, as interruption, as occupying space. In the poems by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, they seem to function more like performers between the words, creating movement and voice within the text. The exhibition shows these dashes in a real space, turning BOEKS into a performative venue.
The sound piece “Figures for dashing” draws upon my book Baroness Elsa’s em dashes and is used as a live-score by performers inviting us to dash around too.

In connection with the exhibition “BOEKS 05: Astrid Seme—Baroness Elsa’s em dashes”, BOEKS Ghent
Speaker: Brian Day
Performers: Stine Sampers, Naomi Schatteman and Mathilde Strijdonk
Photos exhibition: Cato Vanrijckeghem
Photos performance: Zoë De Bock
Thanks to Liene Aerts

Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Figures for dashing / Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
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Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)

Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Founrdy)

Kerning pairs are something profoundly technical in a typeface, yet this is where each one draws its breath from. Initially invisible, in «Kerning to Speech» they become their very own literary script. And it is only with Houdini, Triptych, Compagnie, Polymer, Vulture and Vulgaire that this piece of text evolves to a notation which is meant to be performed and meant to be heard. In a medieval manner the speaker uses her eyes to hear, modelling her perception of the written word upon the experience of the spoken one. Instead of mumbling, the kerning pairs get loudly pronounced as the reader goes along. Moreover, in the tradition of the voces paginarum [voices of the page] they become a persona and tune into the chorus of the Pyte’s type catalogue.

Icw The Pyte Foundry
Speaker: Doris Meixner

Compagnie I (0:00)
Compagnie II (0:43)
Compagnie III (1:36)
Houdini (2:48)
Polymer (4:31)
Triptych Grotesque (5:21)
Triptych Italick (6:46)
Triptych Regular (7:59)
Vulgaire (8:51)
Vulture (9:49)
Mega Ultra (11:04)

Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
Kerning to Speech (The Pyte Foundry)
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A Book for all Readers

A Book for all Readers

“A Book for All Readers” was originally published in an anthology of the same title during the late 19th century. The book itself was conceived as a guide to the formation of libraries and the collection, use, and preservation of books. The poem appears in the chapter entitled ‘humors of the library’ (p. 442).
Rap, itself a deeply historically loaded musical style derived from poetic traditions, was applied to the poem’s printed words through a collaborative process. Thus, the outcome is transformed words; newly made into a ‘Song for All Readers’. The act of rhyming the oration of the sacred librarian line by line echoed the protest songs and slogans being sung at the time: demanding #FreeEducationForAll and open access to knowledge for future generations.

FREE DOWNLOAD

In collaboration with Sizwe Mthethwa and Thapelo Kotlai. ‘abfar’ was created during a stay in Johannesburg where increasingly violent student protests over the rising cost of education also led to a positive downstream outcome in the form of a free online university being made available at major local libraries.

A Book for all Readers
A Book for all Readers
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Het Liedeken

Het Liedeken

“Het Liedeken” is a forgotten song restaged. It finds its origins in a ceremonial song that was sung by printers from the famous Plantin-Moretus Press—located in Antwerp, Belgium. This printing press was founded by Christophe Plantin, and played a profound role in Europe’s book printing trade from the 16th to 17th centuries. Upon acceptance into the printing guild, new journeymen would celebrate together with their Godfathers and reaffirm their commitment to their work by singing this very song. One of the requests made in the lyrics is for good treatment and fair pay to ensure their work’s proper quality.
Today, only the lyrics of this song remain and as such, its performative value has been rendered somewhat uncertain by the loss of its melody. I invited a group of employees from the Plantin-Archives that are located in the original site of the press—now a world heritage site—to join me in speculating on what its sound, or melody, might have been. Each person was asked to sing the song with a melody and tone they imagined would have been sung by their ancestral co-workers, thus creating on record an implausible continuation of oral history.

4.0 sound, 1' 29''
in order of appearance and many thanks to: Werner Van Hoof (curator historic house), Kris Geysen (cataloger of rare books), Pierre Meulepas (assistant) and Elke Van Herck (conservator-restorer of paper and books)
print: Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp, UNESCO World Heritage

Het Liedeken
Het Liedeken
Het Liedeken
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Silo Music (text composition)

Silo Music

Silo Music is refers to an acoustic phenomenon which can occur during the emptying of a metal or concrete silo. Although its name might connote a pleasant melody, Silo Music in fact refers to an extremely loud noise from within the silo’s structure as its contents are discharged. These frequencies and vibrations can result in serious structural damage to silos and their surroundings, and have been the subject scientific research worldwide. This could explain why there are hardly any recordings of it, as it is more likely for people to want to solve ‘a noise problem’, rather than listen to it for its sonic qualities. My work, “Silo Music” is a score of these unforeseeable sounds composed with reference to acoustic descriptions of the sound made by scientists. For this particular recording, the score acted as a starting point for an improvised re-interpretation by Swiss musicians Daniel Steffen and Beat Unternährer.

concert by Beat Unternährer (trombone) and Daniel Steffen (electric piano), 28' 28''

Silo Music (text composition)
Silo Music (text composition)

Silo Music

A generous, non-delicate uttering, even audible in the great distance of the urban environment; present and very centered with very little echo disturbances from the vacant site.

From high up the volume drags to the ground and fades into the soil; unpleasantly rude like a ship’s horn right above your head.

Suddenly a curious rattling sound is emitted which changes to a distinct musical note, reminding of a honking truck; followed by a flogging, like after a hard strike, rapidly fading tune with a metallic character. It comes over and over again. Very similar to the swing of a church bell with strikes that appear in very quick but irregular successions; so a new one begins while the preceding one still fades away.

The tension of the sound is broken by seconds or even minutes of relative quiet. Almost silence—but only almost, never entirely: still the sound keeps thundering in fragmented intervals, breaking the quiet in two.

Vibrations accompanied by a booming low frequency during the discharge. Again short, sharp bursts of motion occur: shrill, particularly obnoxious. The silo cries, it’s screeching and quaking, it’s dynamic. Now, it’s so loud that it could ruin itself due to the vibrations, even causing its collapse.

Silo Music (text composition)
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Urbirds singing the Sonata

Urbirds singing the Sonata

There has never been complete consensus on what the key influences on Kurt Schwitters were when he was preparing his sound poem “Ursonate” (1922–1932). One myth claims he was inspired by bird sounds.
I strongly believe this to be true and wanted to bring the birds back their primordial song—their Ursonate. “Urbirds singing the Sonata” narrates and describes what Kurt Schwitters might have heard when he wrote his poem.

6.0 sound, 32' 39". Thanks to Thomas Grill


Images

  • Schwitters, K. (1974). “Das literarische Werk”. Cologne: DuMont.
  • Notation, Astrid Seme
  • Installation view, University of Applied Arts Vienna


Texts

Urbirds singing the Sonata
Urbirds singing the Sonata
Urbirds singing the Sonata
Urbirds singing the Sonata
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88 Sleeping Disorders

88 Sleeping Disorders

Sleeping disorders are internationally classified into 88 categories that range from “Long Sleep” to “Psychophysiologic Insomnia”. In this sound piece, a calm male voice recites one disorder after another, in a recital reminiscent of the long fabled method of ‘counting sheep’ to get to sleep. At last, the 88 categories of sleep disorders have been remodelled into a sleep inducing list as opposed to one focussed entirely on sleep deprivation.

2.0, speaker: Matthias Lühn, 10' 17"

88 Sleeping Disorders
88 Sleeping Disorders
88 Sleeping Disorders
88 Sleeping Disorders
88 Sleeping Disorders
88 Sleeping Disorders
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Wien Mitte

Wien Mitte

“Astrid Seme has found a space for resonance within the gaps inherent in spoken language. In typography, a blank space is typically understood to be static—defined by formal conventions which if threatened, could be seen to threaten the entire structural integrity of a text. Space between spoken words, on the other hand, is ephemeral; less defined, less subject to formal evidential scrutiny and thereby fertile ground for new explorations. In her piece, Wien Mitte [Vienna Center], Astrid has located resonance between the two words “Wien” and “Mitte”. Performed by a male voice, this piece slowly zooms into the point at the center of the two words, between “n” and “M”, paying special attention to the short break that is necessary to link the words together. What sounds at first like linguistic analysis becomes increasingly abstract, until it eventually evolves into a musical tune—a cello playing at the center of Vienna Center.” —Mark Pezinger

2.0, speaker: Bruno Pisek, 5' 29"

Wien Mitte
Wien Mitte
Wien Mitte
Wien Mitte
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