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Between streaming video installations, sound/radio experiences and writing of sonic tales, electronic artists duo Magali Daniaux and Cédric Pigot turned Norwegian great north into a new field of exploration. A nomad adventure that relies on geostrategic, climatic and biogenetic considerations.
Capture the unspeakable
In this month of February, lost in the middle of boats frozen by the ice in the little harbour of Kirkenes, Norway, silence is reigning. Almost reigning. Microphones in hand, a couple of sound activists try to capture the unspeakable. Magali Daniaux and Cédric Pigot spy on vibrating sounds of the icefield, hound the sailor crossing the docks, giving this way a new expressiveness to their tas-te for polymorphous experimentation that shapes their practice for years, in visual/video art, sound design and writing. The Parisian duo has found there, in this Norwegian extreme-north in whole economic and climatic mutation a kind of new artistic home base. A true combination of geostrategic circumstances: Last year, we did participate to the Eclaircies exhibition which theme was climatic change, says Magali Daniaux. We wanted to see closer places in the world for which global warming is synonymous of economic expansion and, finally, of good opportunity rather than disaster. A Norwegian friend told us about Kirkenes, a city located on Barents Sea at the Russian border. Kirkenes is a hot geostrategic point that could experience in upcoming years a dazzling development. Barents area is a political invention that gathers four nations (North of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and north north/west of Russia) and aimed first to make more flexible relationships with Russia. Today, economic stakes are so big that cooperation is necessary for everyone to get their slice of the pie: oil, gas, ore, wood, fish. Barents Sea also would have 25% of world oil reserves. Prospection and drilling have been delayed for long due to sea borders disagreement between Norway and Russia, but in april 2010, a compromise has been made. Moreover, ice thawing in Arctic allows to consider opening of new transportations corridors to Asia and this is just so huge! Less distance, no pirates…Besides, a paper in Le Figaro described Kirkenes as the next Singapore. We wanted to check it out by ourselves.
Streaming video and sound tales
So last summer, they have landed in Kirkenes to set … an optical witness.
When we realised all these stakes, we decided to set a permanent observation post pointing the city and the harbour, with a streaming, a real time video ( http://www.svk.no/cam3). We really had the impression all big countries But ok, for the moment Kirkenes is still a peaceful small town of 7000 inhabitants at the border of Schengen space.
This streaming video diffusion goes along with a series of audio tales, a recurrent brandmark of Magali Daniaux and Cédric Pigot’s work since Lait Frelaté in which soundtrack floated around weird animal skulls, mix of archaism and futurism. Writing is often at the heart of each of our projects, but it is not always clearly showed, continues Cédric Pigot. It is four hands writing, playful and uninhibited, including science-fiction and cut-up styles, even if not systematic. Our universes are filled with creatures and mutants characters over global traffics. Universes that are sometimes hardly exaggerated. This is Magali voice that you can hear, using different tones according to acid humour, with some musical nods (fragments, samples). And some other times, it is more ambient,n melancholic, with electronic layers. With Kirkenes streaming, we wrote Cyclone KingKrab et Piper Sigma as if it was an invitation to a facebook event and by making extrapolations on what we read about Barents context. At the same time, in Florida, Deep Water Horizon platform let go in the ocean tons of oil. It crushed us. Our text is fed with stories of petrol and dollars merging with a scenario of arctic disaster. And then there is a collision between still scenery surrounding Kirkenes and the voice flow, the vertiginous amount of informations. This is perfect for being heard with headphones. We like the idea of nearness that connects with people listening.
Barents Spektakel polar festival
This winter again, their return on farnorth Norway is another opportunity for a new writing piece, radio-oriented this time, and benefiting from a very special event, the festival Barents Spektakel. Every winter, the association Pikene Pa broen holds the Barents Spektakel. This festival is a political and cultural cocktail drawing from contemporary art, performance, literature, theatre, cinema and music, but also from all the current questions concerning Barents area. When Frank Smith and Philippe Langlois offered us to pro-duce a work for their France Culture’s Atelier de Création radiophonique, we told ourselves it was the right time to go back to Kirkenes. And it was! First week, we recorded several conferences and interviewed architects, journalists, diplomats, artists in our hotel room transformed in home-studio. We met this way the diplomat that was in charge with the think-tank working on sea borders negotiations between Norway and Russia for almost 40 years, Sami Rintala, visionary architect that built the smallest hotel in the world, and Lars Raimberg that talks of Decaux’s French public toilets as the ultimate symbol of democracy. The following week, France Culture sound engineer Gilles Mardorissian helped us to record ambient sounds. We first felt a bit disconcerted because during arctic wintertime, silence rules.
Last june, we recorded unbelieving nature sounds, seagulls shrieks under midnight sun and car tuning addicts in the streets of the city. This time, we recorded noises and bass frequencies of Russian boats engines, extreme violence of sounds of salmon conditioning factory, a failed explosion in Sydvaranger mine, the icebreaker that is pacing the fjord every morning, radio waves, ski jumping competition on TV… To work on this combination streaming video and audio fictions gave us lot of pleasure. Just like if we had found a new way of expression, merging pictorial requirements, writing and sound treatment. A kind of syncretism in which we can play with our preferred mediums. An easy-going and nomad shape, like a freedom space we just start to explore.
Svalbard Islands next target
No worries. This exploration has not come yet to its end. Next summer, Magali daniaux and cédric Pigot will be back anew in Norway for another audiovisual/writing project. Further in the North (yes, it is possible), in the remote archipelago of Svalbard islands. Svalbard archipelago is the northern land of Norway and almost all the territory is a natural reserve or a national park. As well as amazing fjords, flowers, wildlife with wandering bears, it is a “survivalist” initiative financed by Rockfeller Foundation, Monsanto Corporation, Bill Gates Foundation and Norway government that drew our attention. Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an underground location aiming to secure all food-producing cultures seeds to preserve genetic diversity.
It is been given sometimes the name of Noe arch. For us, it is a very good pretext to tackle questions of biogenetic, biodiversity, cryonics, mutation, agronomy, nutrition, common good, overpopulation, desertification, etc. in our writing. We think about reconvening for this occasion some of Lait Frelaté characters: Biofeedback, Grand Singe, Vaisseau Divin, Pont Ligne Plan, Disgrâce Sanglante and Extrémiste Hindou, all telepathics. We like to imagine Svalbard like a giant back-up copy of a “biocentered” humanity involved in ultra-conditionned climatic environement, designed on demand. If the plan chosen for Kirkenes streaming was pointing the city and the harbour because of some economic reasons that interested us, this time it is more a technoscience/nature postcard that appeals us.
We discovered the existence of a small international scientific village in Ny Alesund at the mouth of a beautiful fjord. Every country has got its own research station: Norway, France, Germany, England, Japan, China, South Korea, Holland, Italy, India. So it is there, on this international scientific base that we are going to set our camera and start writing new stories.
Infos < www.evahober.com/Daniaux-Pigot.html >
Lait frelaté < http://eda.vronski.free.fr/LAIT.zip >
Cyclone KingKrab & Piper Sigma
< http://eda.vronski.free.fr/KIRKENES-MP3.zip >
Broadcast of Atelier de Création Radiophonique on april
24 from 23h to midnight (french time) on France Culture
< www.franceculture.com/emission-atelier-de-creation-radiophonique.html-0 >
Published in the Digitalarti Mag #6.
Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.
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anne cecile worms ARTIST, ARTWORK Cedric Pigot dm_artist gravity Jason Cook Magali Daniaux Object Avatar by
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