MixTate Jan St Werner on Dieter Roth

Composer and one half of Mouse on Mars Jan St Werner takes inspiration from Dieter Roth’s Two Persons

Dieter Roth
Two Persons (1971)

Two Persons by Dieter Roth is an image as much as it isn’t depicting anything. It’s a juxtaposition of invisibility with formalization, an idea of an imaginative possibility and a strategy how to frame it. The title suggests it’s a portrait of two persons. Those two persons could be one and the same, like a cubist observation from different angles. Or maybe they are mistakenly seen as two persons but in fact they are just incidents of overlaying outlines of things suggesting resemblance to something human? Maybe these outlines are trackings of movement like shadows of someone's actions?

Roth’s art is very dynamic and at the same time calm and lightly metaphysical. It is also about the paradox like everything was possible in our minds and art was just a proof that our mind is limitless. His paintings, prints, drawings, collages are all like direct spectrograms of the mind.

This mix tries to follow the same path: there’s a soundtrack of everyday actions which I recorded around the Italian castello di fosdinovo in summer 2014. Inside that soundtrack I arranged the musical pieces. These two parallel layers sometimes blend seamlessly, sometimes the music leads, sometimes the field recordings take over and indicate some kind of a narrative.

Roth’s drawings fold and bend in similar ways: foreground and background flip continuously. The white of the space is as important as the drawing inside/around of it. At times it seems irrational like an Escher painting: the more you fix it, the more it slips away and the outside becomes the inside. The music here does the same, it is calm and subtle but when you listen closely, preferably with headphones, the sounds make unexpected turns, break your expectations of rhythm, time and form and reveal an absurd life of their own.


  1. Franco Battiato – L’Egitto prima delle sabbie
  2. C-Schulz & Hajsch – (Untitled)
  3. Oval – II
  4. Andy Graydon – Efface, Erase, Redact (Triptych)
  5. Olivia Block – Pure Gaze
  6. Jan St Werner – Spiazzacorale A
  7. Jan St Werner – Sipian Org Test
  8. Luc Ferrari – Presque Rien N°4 La Remontée Du Village
  9. Morton Feldman – Duration I

This mixtape in the seventh in the MixTate series.

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