Vienna Underground

Vienna Underground/The Third Woman (2007-9) project was a multifaceted locative media performance based film/game with generative music elements which Anna Dumitriu collaborated on as part of a team of artists. The game element was a re-visioning of the film “The Third Man” which tells the story of the smuggling of antibiotics in post war Vienna. The work also alluded to the older history of Plague and contagion in Vienna. There are links between the locations in the film and the old plague pits as well as references to “Miasma”, literally ‘bad air’, which was blamed for causing the disease.

Collecting microbes at the Austrian Parliament in Vienna

Famously the Viennese street musician “Lieber Augustin” fell in to a plague pit when drunk and survived the ordeal, his experience inspired a famous nursery rhyme, the Austrian equivalent of the British “Ring o’ Roses”. 

Playing the game at the Karlsplatz Underground Station in Vienna

Anna Dumitriu cultured bacteria from the air in Vienna and did a biochemical work-up to ascertain the 7 digit Analytical Profile Index codes of the organisms, in order to identify them. Dumitriu sampled Arthrobacter sp, Kocuria rosea and Micrococcus luteus. A musical theme was then generated combining the “Lieber Austin” tune and the API codes of the bacteria, using an algorithm created by sound artist Barry Roshto. This extends themes in Dumitriu’s work involving history of Plague as well as previous collaborations with sound artists to generate bacteria music.

Exhibitions and events

Vienna Underground Improvised Performance Documentation at Kunsthalle Wein

Anna Dumitriu co-ordinated an improvised performance about the project at the Kunsthalle Wein in February 2009 in collaboration with Hilde Fuchs, Ulli Klepalski and Valerie Kattenfeld and members of the Vienna Underground Team.

Vienna Underground/The Third Woman was first exhibited at The State Museum of Contemporary Art/Centre for Contemporary Art as part of the 2009 Thessaloniki Biennial. 

The piece was also exhibited as part of DAW 2010 in Xi’an, China where Anna Dumitriu and Margarete Jahrman ran a performance/game art workshop and created a performance for the opening ceremony of DAW which involved the simulation of an “outbreak lockdown”.

Vienna Underground Team

Anna Dumitriu, Cliona Harmey, Margarete Jahrmann, Mauri Kaipainen, Martin Rieser, Barry Roshto, Nita Tandon, Pia Tikka, Rasmus Vuori, and Nina Yankowitz.


This project was developed as part of the European Mobile Lab for Interactive Art (e-MobiLArt) Project and funded by the CULTURE 2007 Programme of the European Union, with specific funding for KryoLab 2 at the Rondo Gallery from Arts Council England.

The team are grateful for the support of the e-MobiLArt partners and in particular the project manager Dimitris Charitos and the curatorial committee of Annick Bureaud, Roger Malina, Nina Czegledy, and Christiana Galanopoulou.