Wish You Were Here?

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Viennese artist Siegrun Appelt's Moderato Cantabile takes its name from the title of a 1959 novel by French author Marguerite Duras. Appelt distributed this book, itself a meditation on processes of memory and perception, to nine professionals (three artists, a publicist, an architect…), requesting that they read it and return to her exact descriptions of the music room and café central to the story. Video recordings of conversations between Appelt and her collaborators and projections of each described environment, rendered as a 3D digital model, comprised a 2004 installation at Landesgalerie Linz. Now, Moderato Cantabile's transcripts and images are documented online, framed by critics' essays about the project. One essayist muses at the "liberty" he takes by writing about a book he has never read--and exhibition he has never seen (apart from online). In this case, distance and secondhand experience drive Appelt and Duras' ideas, and Moderato Cantabile's new home on the Internet feels like the perfect, murky stage for remembering and forgetting sites and sights constructed by others. - Kevin McGarry