Endemic Engine

I think it was in December (2013) that Bjørn Charles Dreyer invited me out for a coffee. He wanted me to make a video for his upcoming release, Westaman. This is what Bjørn Charles wrote about the project:

In the wake of Piston Ltd’s 2007 piece Domestic Engine for four musicians and an engine (Marna), followed the project Westaman, originally initiated by Sigbjørn Nedland. He challenged the musicians to compose a new piece focusing on a particular high speed catamaran engine the Westamaran, and it‘s cultural significance. Fascinated by the sound of the boat, of maritime environs all over the world, and that of the South Coast of Norway in particular, Bjørn Charles Dreyer, Erland Dahlen and Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen set to work.

The story of the Westamaran – an innovative work of engineering and a rather popular high speed boat – starts locally in Bjørn Charles Dreyer’s backyard Mandal, but the boat was popular along the entire Norwegian coastline. Eventually, by the late 70s and early 80s, the Westamaran was exported globally, and the musicians, – interested in it’s global reach, tracked down a particular one off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Local East-African musicians like Mohammed Issa Matona and Anania Ngoriga contributes on this musical piece, which meshes together influences of maritime culture, industrial history, wildly ranging musical backgrounds and the love of pure sound.

The prerequisite of the request was simple: choose any track on the album and make a video.

My artistic practice is heavily invested in the formalistic approach to both sound and video. In my work I usually concern my self with recorded material and how it  gains new significance as art through constructed environments, for example a line of code.

When I started on this project I did not adhere to the underlying theme of the album. I wanted to work with the formalistic properties of the track. The timbre, texture and the ambient space in the sound.

What fascinated me with the track “Endemic Engine” was the aural architecture (which is the properties of space that can be experienced by the listener) of the recorded sounds.

In the beginning of the track you can listen to the room in which the musicians are paying. You are listing to the properties of space. And those properties becomes an aesthetic value. Through the sound of the drumsticks, you can decode a narrow space. You can hear the movement of people in a room.

I listen to these sounds not as “what they refer to”, but rather “what they sound like”. The aesthetic value of the sound. The auditive equivalent of a modernistic painting, if you will.

I wanted my video work to reflect these formalistic properties.The change of focal point in the video creates an uncertainty for the viewer as the images oscillates between being in focus and out of focus. The constant change in focal point renders the images into an intertwined-multi-layered texture.

My thoughts was that this change in focal point reflected how the drumsticks created a texture in the same manner. How the drumsticks change in velocity, pitch and timbre constantly thought the track.

The images I have used is grounded in this idea of a space, which can be both definable and undefinable as the oscillation progresses. Much like the space you can listen to in the beginning of the track and later on.

To me the track “Endemic Engine”  and the video has the same aesthetic qualities of space, timbre/colour and velocity/definition. To me the video represent a visual texture to its auditive counterpart.

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