Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Triquetra at the Illuminating York Festival

Triquetra: The Shield Wall

Ross Ashton (of The Projection Studio) and myself were delighted to have won a commission from the Illuminating York Festival this year to bring the early medieval period of Scandinavian & English history to life.
For followers of my blog and my work, you will know that this is not unfamiliar territory for me - 'Contours', a quadrophonic sound installation focusses on the sounds of the languages of Old Norse, Old English and their modern descendants in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, English and Icelandic. It also worked specifically with the poetry of the Poetic Edda and Beowulf to construct a sonic atmosphere that worked with the roots of skaldic storytelling and ritual. The aim was to focus on the father of the Norse gods, Othin/Odin as the generator of myth, story & tradition through a digital oral tradition.

Triquetra takes a different view. This time we position ourselves firmly in history to look at the fascinating story of Harald Bluetooth, Sweyn Forkbeard & Canute the Great, the three kings of the Jelling dynasty who oversaw enormous political and religious change amongst the lands that connect to the North Sea.
I decided from the outset to return to the original languages of Old Norse and Old English and I feel enormously privileged to have been supported by volunteer academics and students from a number of universities, who really wanted to support this project. The knowledge base this country holds of this material is rather humbling and worthy of mention, so my thanks go to the universities of Aberystwyth, Cambridge, Sheffield, Warwick and York for being the home and teaching centres for such an amazing period of literature and history. Named thanks will come to those individuals later!

I decided to let the texts themselves tell the story and when you listen you're as likely to hear history chronicles as well as poetry, not to mention some solid sagas from Iceland. It took 6 months of research and reading to select the parts that referred to the story specifically, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as well as passages which capture something of the attitude and philosophy of both the vikings and the Anglo-Saxons they set out to plunder and rule over!
I was able to build on the knowledge base I had built through 'Contours' and take it out even further. The sharp-eared amongst you will also hear me re-visit certain fragments of early music that were heard in Contours, re-arranged and placed into a new context within this piece.

The audio experience, I hope, is a rich one.
The visual experience is a striking one and already many images of the projection are circulating through all forms of media.

I finish this post with some links to some of those images and articles before I present you with my online guide to Triquetra & its history for the curious!

I do hope those who are able to come to York over the next four days will be able to experience this piece which is very special to both Ross and myself.

Triquetra projected onto Clifford's Tower.

Written article on some background to how Triquetra came to be

PDF brochure of Illuminating York 2013

Illuminating York website

To see more pictures, go here for Ross' photostream of The Projection Studio works.

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You can also follow Ross Ashton on Twitter by searching for @projstudio