the sound installations
There are several things to be taken into account when designing a
light-ambience for a three-dimensional sound installation. First, a
distinction can be made, as pointed out by Sabine Schäfer, between a set-up
that is freely accessible to a number of visitors (a so-called traversable
installation), and a set-up for a static audience (a concertante
installation). This either is a free decision of the composer or a
consequence of specific conditions at an event. The conference room of the
Deutsches Hygienemuseum in Dresden, and the nature of the conference itself
made it clear that the composition TopoPhonicSpheres had to be in
concertante form. Second, there is the apparent nature of the composition
itself. Although it was clear to me that it would be of no use trying to
produce imagery that accompanied the music like a conventional video-clip
would, it would have been equally pointless to ignore the feeling of the
composition at all.
In this particular case, making a video-clip however, or rather three different clips according to the scheme of the composition, turned out to be the only feasible solution for the room. I decided that the best way of finding images that would emphasise the feel of the music without telling a story of their own, would be to listen to the music, get a camera and start shooting. So most of the material was produced after the composition had been finished, during one week of filming and editing at the ZKM's Institute for Image Media. The result was a thirty-minute video in three segments, depicting the three parts of the composition as I experienced them.
Part one is a steady close-up of water flowing near a sluice. The only movement in the image is the movement of the waves, and at some point, the water falling over the lock. Throughout the clip, there are traces of a video-feedback effect, hinting at what's beyond the visible surface.
The music in the second part has a more narrative feel to it, dealing with the city of Dresden and its tragic history. The accompanying clip as well refers to the beauty of pre-war Dresden, and the firestorm that destroyed so much of it. There is no clear concept of camera motion here; I used clips from historic footage along with clips from contemporary films, as well as material I recorded myself. A digitally created fire serves to link different scenes together.
The third part has a very stringent motion applied to it. The camera is pointing at the sky from underneath a tree and continuously rotating over 360 degrees. The resulting image is a dazzling, ever-turning greenish spiral, mapped onto itself several times using video-feedback again. (Video-feedback, by the way, is the effect generated by a camera when it simultaneously records the same image it display on a monitor, much like the infinite reflections in two facing mirrors.)
So all three segment can be said to focus on one of the four classical elements: the first part deals with water, the second is about fire and the third part shows the sky. Of course, these are themes that arose during the process of filming, which took place after the music had already been written, so any connection to whatever themes present in the composition is purely associative and arbitrary on my part.
Finally, these three clips were projected on a fixed screen in front of the conference room, accompanied by two separate projections on the walls to the left and the right. These projections either showed an abstract, computer-graphics interpretation of the above mentioned "main themes", or would simply repeat the central image.