Pär Thörn Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (alphabetisch) sonic transformation

In Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (alphabetisch) (Storno Förlag, 2012), conceptual writer and sound artist Pär Thörn alphabetizes all of the words of the original edition of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's classic novel of 1774 and sets them in a Fraktur typeface. The result is a fractured or broken narrative structure, a graphic score, and a visual text that foregrounds the individual word and typographic materiality rather than the book's narrative content. Thörn’s conceptual text raises issues of readability, nationality, and literary autonomy in relation to the expanded field of art and typographic heritage. 

In the acoustic transformation of his book, Thörn treats the page as a graphic score, interpreting the spaces between letters as white noise and the letters themselves as silence. In the version presented here, all the lines of the first page of the first part of Die Leiden des jungen werthers (alphabetisch) are played at the same time, producing a simultaneously abstract and concrete wall of laminal noise from the letters and spaces of the individual lines. The piece was premiered in 2012 at Rumpsti Pumsti Gallery in Berlin.

Pär Thörn is a Swedish poet, conceptual artist, and musician currently based in Berlin. His work is inspired by Fluxus, Åke Hodell, Öyvind Fahlström, and Sten Hanson. Thörn has published more than ten books since his debut in 2002, and has presented text- and sound pieces all over Europe, performing with Leif Elggren, Keith Rowe, Charles Bernstein, and Axel Dörner. His online poem “I Am” is a constantly changing text constructed with instant search results from Twitter.