"ERASER'S EDGE"
(COLLABORATIVE WORK)

CONCERT AT ULTIMA 2005 FESTIVAL
THE NORWEGIAN ACADEMY OF MUSIC, LINDEMANSALEN
12 OCTOBER 2005

From the program
Release concert for Fossnes’ new album.
Experience Norwegian music for violin, among others Moe’s work for violin, a dancer and a piece of rubber.

Composer: Ole Henrik Moe
Violin: Sigyn Fossnes
Piano:
Einar Henning Smebye
Rubber:
Einar Fjærvoll
Choreographer: Amanda Steggell

Audio Excerpts from concert MP3
[5.25 min, 4.98 mb]


IMG: set up (click on image for higher res)

Synaesthetic choreography?

I commissioned this piece as music for a choreography I was developing with Ole Henrik in 1995. Finally, ten years later, it has been realised. One of the original inspirations we had for this piece was Un Chien Andalou, Louis Bunuel, 1928 (1). The opening sequence of this film was a central theme in the way I approached my work in Eraser's Edge.

In the piece a pianist plays a relentless rythmic repetition of 3 notes on the piano keyboard at varying velocities, while another users a rubber to slide up and down on the piano strings, manipulating the tones struck by the pianist. A violinist cuts into the soundscape like a razor's edge.

Audio > visual correlations using live audio input (microphone) to influence the visual imagery, which consisted of:

A horizontal "oscilloscope" line running down the centre of the imagery, changing color according to khz. (Flowing, cutting the visual imagery/eye apart - the camera eye, and my eye as monitored by the camera)

A partially transparent red-orange square, the size modulated by left envelope of the audio. (Edgy, tinitng the camera view with fresh blood colours)

Live camera input with a mirror filter where the mirror modes were trigged by the left envelope of the audio, with keying on dark areas. (cut up subjective view, jittery, nervous)

I restricted myself to performing under similar conditions to the musicians by performing from one spot - sitting on a stool in the "apron" of the piano. I could only film as far as I could stretch from this position.

PRODUCTION ISSUES

Uncomfortable production conditions made it difficult to fully acheive my aims. Even though I knew that my participation was to be very much of a stunt due to lack of rehearsal time, I never the less planned carefully to try and acheive the best results. However, my demands were not met during the short rehearsal on the day of the show resulting in incorrect lighting during the performance - something which was paramount for me as it meant that my camera was not calibrated correctly. The transparent effect of the horizontal line and the red square with the live video feed was not acheived. Note stands were incorrectly placed on stage and restricted my planned filming activities.From an artist point of view, the performance of Eraser's Edge was lacking as a successful work influenced by the notion of synaesthesia.

However, despite my disappointment Eraser's Edge received a great response from the public, and I actually had quite a good time once I realised there was nothing to do about the situation.

CRITICAL RESPONSE

One of the questions posed in my project description ....

Can an artwork be described as "successful" in synaesthetic terms in relation to output - influencing the way an audience perceives a work?

.... is proving difficult to answer. I therefore asked a member of the audience, composer Rolf Wallin, for feedback. I sent him the following email.

I would like to ask you if you could consider writing a few comments (in Norwegian if you prefer) about my participation in Eraser's Edge. The reason is that I'm currently researching synaesthesia and contemporary live art practice in the Programme for Research Fellowships in the Arts. My project focuses on a formal/structural artistic approach to the subject to inform the development of performative live artworks where synaesthetic strategies are employed to evoke both unusual sensory connections and experiences and new aesthetic potentials. While synaesthesia in the arts is most often referred to in terms of visual music (stemming from music and visual arts), I am attempting to approach this subject from the perspective of a choreographer. I define the role of a choreographer liberally, as someone who makes structures for movement.

I was asked to participate in Eraser's Edge as a choreographer/dancer, and resolved this assignment by making a choreography influenced by my focus on synaesthetics, placing myself in the context of an ensemble.

One of the questions I am trying to answer is:

Can an artwork be described as "successful" in synaesthetic terms in relation to:
a) Process, input and output - from an artist perspective?
b) Output - influencing the way an audience perceives a work?

With regards to question (b) direct feedback from an audience is very helpful! Your response does not have to be long, or even deal with these questions or synaesthetics at all. Basically I would be grateful for any perspective you have to offer.

With best wishes,
Amanda Steggell

Reply from Rolf (2)

Dear Amanda,

I had a great time with the Eraser (wonderful title, btw!) The music was both very OHM (the meditative approach) and very little OHM (the groovy piano sounds) at the same time. And I enjoyed the video very much as well. Good grip to have a nondancing dancer.

But some of the interplay between visual and aural was (for me) a little incongruent, to use a neutral word, leaving the possibility for it to be something you wanted.

1) I liked the concept of your work and the look of the screen. The caleidoscope algorithm made very interesting imagery, scaling from figurative to abstract, near/close. The strictness and the few visual elements suited the concept of the music.

2) The meaning of the green "oscilloscope" line was unclear to me. Had it been a realtime oscilloscopy of the sound from the musicians, it would made a closer integration between sound and music. But I might have missed your point entirely with this element?

3) The Nato (?) algorithm for the video, selecting abruptly a new section of the video signal, created a jumpiness that was very different from the music. Again maybe intended, but for me it was a little uncomfortable in the wrong way.

Also, the way you moved the camera seemed a little random compared to the extremely controlled, apart from the apparent "from-myself and back-to-myself" large form of it. More gradual and slow changes would have been more congruent.

Eli, my photographer wife, and I actually discussed this on the way home, and she had very much the same feelings. Although these things are not at all very severe criticism, we both liked "Eraser" very much.

OK, I end here, lots of things to do, but we could talk on the phone if you like. My mouth is faster than my fingers....I really appreciate this initiative! We really need feedback as artists, and I've learned a lot from hearing the views of dancers that I wouldn't get from a musician.

All the best
Rolf


Here is a short but sweet review from Verdens Gang:

Klangrik (VG paper edition, 13.10.2005)
TORI SKREDE
5 out of 6

Sigyn Fossnes once again displays her talent as a new music perfromer.

Violinist Sigyn Fossnes has made her mark as an extremely exciting performer of new music. She made her mark once more at the concert for the release of her first solo album yesterday.

The premiere of Ole-Henrik Moe's «Eraser's Edge» for violin, piano and rubber has already gained considerable media attention. Violin, piano and rubber can sound like a humorous combination, all the better that this piece is such a very expressive work.

A rhythm-pattern on 3 deep piano strings was damped by a rubber, over which hung a beautiful violin solo, and a human light projection by Amanda Steggell.


LINKS AND REFERENCES:

(1) Un Chien Andalou (by Michael Koller)
http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/
01/12/chien.html

(2) Rolf Wallin
http://www.notam02.no/~rolfwa/