I proposed to collaborate with Kunsthall 3,14, on this artistic research project, not only because of its strong critical profile or its importance on the local Bergen art scene, but also because of how its architecture speaks into the theme of the project. The building’s former function as bank, speaks directly to the placement of the project within the realm of finance. The Bergen harbour stretches out in front of the stand-alone building, making the once simple travel from fishing boat, to marketplace, to bank vault, almost too illustrated. Inside the building, the architecture is really special not only for a building in Bergen, but really also for a contemporary art institution in general. The way up to the main galleries on the first floor is through an almost imposing grand marble staircase. The staircase forks after the first flight of stairs and loops back together on the top landing, revealing the entrance to the main gallery.

Island is Prologue
My proposal was to make a two-part exhibition, where the first part, 'Cable ITCH (I don’t wanna work at Island no more)', would take place in the staircase leading up to the main gallery; the same gallery in which the second part of the exhibition would later be installed. This first part of the exhibition would fall midways through my research period and thus constitute my midways presentation. The second part would fall at the finalisation of my project. For this final presentation the works from 'Cable ITCH' would resurface in the main gallery as part of the installation. More than just being a midways presentation, this first part would shape a kind of prologue, to the final result. A body of artistic research in its own right, shaping a narrative that somehow leads up to the final narrative on display in the main gallery or final presentation. The choice of making the first part of this two-part exhibition play out in the staircase, was an attempt to relate quite physically to the idea of ascending towards something.

Another reason for choosing the staircase as installation space was that it, on account of its origin as bank, is visually similar to the staircase of 50 Broad St. in New York City. The architectural styles of the two buildings really mirror one another. In 'Cable ITCH', the thick fiber optic cable is thought of as a vessel for investigating the space between physicality and immateriality in the realm of finance. As the cable, as protagonist of sorts, took shape inside the Blender software, I had to ask myself how the staircase, forming the habitat for this snaking cable, were to be modelled. Instead of creating a mock-up of a staircase I had never visited, like in the Island offices, I decided to move the cable, geographically and in time, to the staircase in Bergen. A transportation some 5.600 km North East and approx. 25 years forward in time. The staircase of Kunsthall 3,14 was documented in detail and consequently build up inside the 3D software. In here the architecture would be virtually extended, creating a sort of Esherist mirroring of the space; the foot of one staircase attached to the top landing of same duplicated staircase, flipped to sustain the spiralling motion of descend. Copy-paste architecture ad infinitum. In this way the cable could wind further and further down the marble steps, leaving a somewhat disoriented impression on where exactly on the winding stairs a scene is playing out. Similarly a hallway was modelled in a sort of extended version. The short entrance hallway of the Kunsthall was extended a great length and transposed to the top floor of the staircase. Now the exceptionally long hallway would stretch beyond the double doors that would normally lead to the main gallery. Narratively the cable now makes its way from a door in the hallway (the Island offices?) down the long hallway and through the double doors into the staircase (leading down into the server-room?). The architecture was mapped out in a 2D cross section drawing, upon which points of actions were positioned. Here it turns into a centipede, here is where Josh sits, here everything is flooded with black goo, here the cable goes into spasms.

There is something unnerving about getting lost in ones own creation. In the dialogues with Laurence, a lot of effort was used on figuring out where in the architecture our point of discussion was actually taking place. There is an ingrained miscommunication playing out; a series of repeating misunderstandings that lead to lengthy clearing up of quite simple challenges. This miscommunication stems from Laurence working in space, while I work in time. As I am trying to construct the durational result of a thing, Laurence is mostly interested in where inside the architectural build, a thing takes place. There is no time, inside the computer generated setting. At least not until a video file is spat out. The temporality of a passing hovering text, is in the digital model translated into where the text is located, its size and its relation to the camera; a transformation act not thought of as happening at a specific moment but really in a specific location.

Reconsidered Approach

The way in which I normally approach the editing process must be reconsidered, when the whole sequence exists within the 3D model. There is no pile of material, comprising actions filmed from different angles, from where one can start to shape a linearity, a duration, a temporality. In the CGI sequence, every shot must be comprehensively designed and this never before the entire model has been constructed. The amount of time and processor power that rendering requires, makes it almost impossible to do alternative versions of a scene. In the end there is always very little editing done, only small shaves to make the whole thing beat. The CGI sequence has everything incorporated into it, ready to create the illusion of a setting. The lights must be set, the grain of the recording, the speed of the camera. These elements that in a physical shoot might be built up gradually as the scene is set, and importantly will be brought together by a number of professionals with specified knowledge of the various components creating a mood, is in the these CGI composition only worked out between two persons. A director and a creator. The question of where creation happens in these work relations, is pertinent.

A Space Not Here
The concept of ascending the physical flights of stairs, while watching the simulated texture of these same marble slabs, is an attempt to enable an exchange between information and experience. If the simulated reality depicted in the CGI sequences is read as virtual copy/echo/mirroring, then it could produce a bodily experience of being in the physical equivalent of that reality. Narratively the two locations, 50 Broad St. and Kunsthall 3,14, melts into one, but on a more experiential plane, a melting together of virtual model and physical setting is also intended. Furthermore it aims at a desynchronisation of temporalities. The temporality of the hovering (virtual) steady cam, forever unconstrained in its travel, is juxtaposed with the temporality of a body that traverses actual flights of stairs. The very weight of the slaps of marble was something I unquestionably felt underneath my feet as I scaled the staircase of Kunsthall 3,14. Intended as exhibition space, my attention to the space was heightened, no doubt - as if certain questions about it could be answered in its minute details; in the way it felt. I thought about ways in which this form of heightened awareness could be jolted into a potential visitor of an installation. What makes us aware of the environments we merely pass through unnoticeably? When are we reminded about our bodies? When in pain? I decided to make the virtual transitory copy of the unchanging stone staircase, as an attempt to create the same jolting into being of that experience of the physicality of the space. The temporal ephemerality of code shooting across the screen might also suggest that the permanence of the marble staircase, viewed through a different temporal optic, actually exists in the same form of ephemeral state. Or perhaps, it is really much more knee-jerk in its approach. Its about what is and what isn’t. It is about the time spent with a certain space, as one is physically within another. The works want you to stand on those stone steps and awkwardly figure out the amount of time spent here. Simple considerations; about how movement from one screen to another will in most cases entail an ascend or a descend; about the vertical distribution of visitors in the same space; about the way the staircase twines, making for an instant nonlinearity in the way the screens connect to one another.

Virtual Memory
Due to COVID-19, a complex situation occurred that uninvitingly spoke into this very relationship between the physical and the virtual. Constrained from travelling to Bergen, during the whole development of the works, their installation and the entire exhibition period, I only ever came to know this relationship between virtual and real, in a virtual manner. As our work with the virtual staircase grew more and more detailed, and complex in the overlaying of situations and temporalities occurring here, I found myself gradually transposing my initial experience of the staircase onto this virtual copy. The virtual space gradually constituting my memory of the space. Now, even the photographic documentation of the installation seems strangely unreal; the staircase looking way to bright and the surfaces mockingly uneven.