Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Kjell Björgeengen, Keith Rowe & Philipp Wachsmann


29 Nov–07 Dec 2008  •  BFI Southbank; BFI IMAX; ICA, London; Spike Island; Arnolfini, Bristol; CCA, Glasgow

Kjell Björgeengen, Keith Rowe & Philipp Wachsmann create an immersive environment in which sound is looped through oscillators, violin, a radio, guitar pick-ups and specially contructed video amps to create dense flickering images and colours that strobe and confuse the eye.  

Kjell Bjørgeengen is one of Europe’s leading moving image artists.  And he’s a great match for KYTN, as over a 30-year career he has developed a way of transforming audio signal from oscillators directly into rapid fire alternating flicker images.  Sound is considered as image, and modified for it’s visual qualities. Keith Rowe, trained as a painter, is one of the UK’s great experimental musicians.  By laying his guitar on it’s back and starting to perform it with unexpected materials (radios, fans, knives) he gave up a good deal of control over his instrument, or more accurately, opened it up to chance, in which he could still make decisions.  He is one of the key progenitors of electro-acoustic improvisation, and his approach to between-ness as a way of creating collaborative music – the push and pull between different people/ poles marks him out as a deeply considered improviser, interested in the social space created by performance - his instrument, the room, you, the interconnectedness of these things here, right now.


Philipp Wachsmann (violin/ electronics) came to free improvisation through the music of such 20th Century classical composers as Ives, Webern, Partch, and Berio. He’s collaborated with pretty much all of the key UK improvisers from the 70’s on: Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley and so on…and it’s a great privilege to have him here.


Kjell has these custom built video kits with which he can create flickering, analogue (sometimes dense/ sometimes spartan: minimal/ maximal) images by sending sound signals to them from oscillators.  For this performance, instead of sending those signals direct to his amps, Keith will pick them up on his radio and play them back through his guitar pick-ups, before sending them back to Kjell to transform into image.  Philipp, as a kind of counterpoint, has developed thin violin lines and electronic crackles in direct response to the images, which are also fed back to Kjell, modifying the images again.  It’s a kind of Mexican stand-off at 25 frames per second.


They create a pretty robust bridge (open to two way traffic) across the audio/ video border, a flickering and dense analogue feedback loop that treats sound and image as two different products of the same collective, artistic sweat, pulled in three directions at once.