A Whistling
Present throughout the staircase of Kunsthall 3,14 is the sound of a whistling tune; 'In the Hall of The Mountain King' by Edvard Grieg (1875). Since 'Cable ITCH' is installed in a space of passage, leading up to a main destination or down to street level, it was important for me that the audible landscape would be one of passing, as well. Two soundscapes are heard as one traverse the marble staircase: Footsteps, from a video of a stockbroker climbing a staircase, and the whistling of same broker, pushing his way through Wall St. Where the former somehow drowns in the echo of the visitor’s own footsteps on the marble stairs (hopefully giving the lonely visitor a feeling of a-synchronicity in the relationship between the audible saturation of stairs being climbed and the reality of the number of bodies occupying the physical stairs), the latter completely owns the space. The remaining channels of the installation are kept silent. This was decided for a number of reasons.

I did consider that the 'anti-work meditation' following the animated data cable, would exist as a voice over. I was experimenting with how the reading of the short clear cut statements would work in the space and how they might have formed a vibe of cacophony in the reverberating stone staircase, being emitted from to non-synced sequences. But as I worked with the text I ultimately chose to tether the statements to the written language and the act of reading. This was chosen partly to avoid having the sentences being loaded with a certain emotion - an acting out of the feelings behind the words - or performed in the style of monotonous art-world voice over - that tasteless and bland delivery ridden of emotions but always already loaded again with the authority of the indifferent and dispassionate 'intellectual' speech – the kind of neutral voice that considers the articulate and western accented adult voice a standard. (The particularity of the emotional landscape that this form of 'neutral' voice evokes in a listener seems worth considering.) There was also the question of what voice would frame this meditation. The voice of Josh or the voice of the cable? Or a third voice speaking for all the exploited workers out there? The aim with letting the anti-work meditation exist only as written text, is to make the reading-out-loud of the wording, a performance that plays out in an inner space with a subjectively imagined inner voice.

Another reason for keeping the channels silent, has to do with their quality as computer generated images that shape computer generated environments. There is no direct sound on the CGI material, since there literally never were material to begin with. Nothing has taken place, everything is an architectural (if any spacial term is really appropriate) placement of code and a coded camera movement directed by given coordinates in same code language. Nothing is picked up, breathing reality into the frames. No computer hum, no ventilator drone, no squeaks, clicks, light fixture hiss. The material exist in a deadening silence. Enter the foley artist, the ambient soundtrack, the layered construction of an audible space that never was – to the point where we might actually believe the illusion or at least play along with the idea that the space actually existed. In this installation the silence seemed important to hold on to. The blunt and deadening effect of the silenced sequence, is insisted on in order to emphasise its (non)material quality. The choice of this silence was made with the hope of circling in red, the non-entity of the coded language, but also to direct these channels toward the object realm rather than the filmic. They are silent as sculptures would be; they form silent moving objects on the wall.


Embodied Voice Over
A final reason for not putting sound on the material is how the channels are made to work within the collective soundscape that forms up and down the stairs. The repetitive whistling and feet on steps (together of course with the montage of murmuring visitors, outside construction workers and phones ringing) can perhaps form an audible reality that makes it into the computer generated environment, as well. 'In the Hall of The Mountain King' becomes the soundtrack for the entire installation. The whistling tune, is not merely a score that repeats in the staircase, and into the environments of the various channels, but really also an embodied voice over.

Whistling Performance
In contrast to the ordered camera movements of the surrounding material, the camera that tracks the speeding broker, jolts and rocks. A handheld camera that performs raw documentation rather than cinematic shoot. It was an early decision that the two sequences with the stockbroker should take the form of performative gestures, rather than cinematic narratives. The character of the stock broker may very well be made up of different characters – the fictional character Hans Beckert from Fritz Lang’s Film Noir 'M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder' (1931) (Hans Beckert whistles this exact tune with an 'M 'for Mörder written on his shoulder); Joshua Levine of course; or a more generic impersonation of a Wall St. Stockbroker – but it is also quite importantly the artist himself performing a gesture in public space and the style of the recording is made to highlight this. There is meant to be an urgency to the way it is filmed. This urgency is doubled in how the recording was done without permission, engaging an unknowing public and further stressed by the battery life of all the equipment (and performers) draining in no time, due to the piercing cold.

The Hand that Shoots
The handheld camera that follows the deterministic stockbroker, pushing the obsessive tune through the urban landscape of financial speculation, is also chosen because it temporally relates to a certain camera eye in horror fiction. The unmistakably handheld device, points to the hand that wields it. The handheld camera is used as a ploy to direct focus back onto the very other body that holds the vision that you now share. There is a certain temporality bound to the handheld camera. The recording is happening now and here. Setting up a tripod would only remove the recording from the now it takes place in. It also somehow makes a protagonist out of the camera. In the CGI sequences the camera is arguably only experienced as technical movement and even in the recordings of the motorcycle helmet protagonist climbing the stairs, the deliberately simplistic and direct camera work is still depending on the fixed compositions of the tripod (even as the camera starts to move, outside on the roof, it does so in mechanised rhythms, now carried by the camera-drone). But here in the bustling street the camera claims identification.

In the Hall…
The whistling tune was one of the very first gestures towards this artistic research project. As I found myself in the financial district of NYC, drifting around near the Island office entrance, that tune was stuck in my head. As I whistled it out loud, I became weirdly conscious about it. Was I whistling it because of the giddy and escalating quality of the tune? How its intensification mirrored the environment I was moving through? Or was it that scene in the film 'M'? Was it the very charge of culpability that oozed from the buildings and the people dressed in finance sector uniforms? I imagined a personification of the high frequency trader in the very dawning of high frequency trading. How the algorithmic pacing of said trader would shoot through the crowd, that constituted the old ways. And how the mark of ‘murder’ would not be recognised by this person, not yet at least. The pacing of that tune. Speeding through the halls of the mountain king, giddily, knowing that the mountain king will eventually have to give in and follow pace. It seemed a scene that would have to be played out – this time through the body.  

Everything is Not Okay
Finally, the act of whistling was also chosen for its relation to the ominous. This relation is brought about in reverse. One whistles to one self, sometimes unconsciously, and it shapes a personalised light-hearted or tranquil space; a space of innocence. One whistles a joyful tune when nothing is wrong; when things run smooth and there is absolutely nothing to worry about. (This is also why the cartoon crook whistles out loud, hands in pocket, to seem natural and unrelated to the criminal events that just unfolded.) And it is because of this proposed innocence and everything-is-okay-ness, that the whistled tune is so spine-chilling when it forms within a horror narrative. We know that EVERYTHING is not okay! On the physical stairs of the old finance institution, together with the forbidding visuals from the hellish realm of trading, the whistling tune is meant to rub against the walls and in its friction remind us that nothing within this institution is really okay. The tune creates a mood that seeps into all material. There is no place in the entire installation were the mood is not set by this tune. Sound will do that, seep in (or out), that is the consequence of us not having ear-lids.