Installation by Andreas Trobollowitsch. Photo: Ola Queen
That lack of control, and the willingness to not only submit to it, but also engage with it, and to go one step further: to design a careful engagement with the act of submitting to loss of control – this act was at the heart of the work by the festival’s first artist, Andreas Trobollowitsch. He made an installation with four acoustic guitars hanging vertically upright on a wall, and set up oscillating motors with hair from violin bows to sway across the strings; each guitar with only three strings, each tuned to a different chord. Because of the multiple physical variabilities––how long the strings stay tuned; the changing distance of the motors/hairs to the strings; the waves of a/synchronization between the moments of hair striking the strings; the shape of the room; the shape of the bodies in the room; etc.––the installation changed radically, mesmerizingly subtly radically. Not only from minute to minute, but from day to day as well. Because the installation not only inaugurated this edition of the festival, but it was turned on between sets each night as well, functioning like the opposite of an alarm: when it was on, you were “between things”; when off, something was happening.
The variety of sounds, rhythms, and reverberating harmonic waves also changed significantly depending on where you stood in the room. The combination of the false arco from the guitars with the vibration of the motors put a wild whirr of beats in the room, like surfing on reverb. With so many opportunities to hear the installation, I discovered the delicacy of physicality Trobollowitsch engaged. The fans and guitars had minds of their own: sometimes the fan jostled back a micrometer, causing the sound to completely disappear, or a guitar leaned one squeak closer, unpleasantly magnifying the action. He monitored the installation, but not too too closely, only adjusting its twitches and leanings in acute detail when necessary, preferring to allow the installation to develop its own breath.