Substantial mechanisms


Substantial mechanisms, 2016
glass, leather, audio, speakers
duration: 11:48 mins
Installation view: Elephant Kunsthall, Lillehammer (NO)
Photo: Mads Andreassen, 2016

“Substantial mechanisms draws inspiration from the work of anthropologist Victor Turner and his notion of ‘social dramas’, the kind of self- staging we perform at moments of major transition in our lives. Turner ascribed three stages to the social drama: separation (a crumbling of the ego’s former state), liminality (an airy, amorphous restructuring), and integration (the re-emergence of a voice or self in harmony with the new environment). 

The three sections of Substantial mechanisms’s composition offer three interpretations of the stages in Turner’s model. What begins with a hectic, thumping, and unpredictable rhythm, woven through with the guttural vibrations of Inuitthroat singing, breaks apart into an ambi- ent, polyphonic collage of violins, oddly harmonious without settling on key or mode. This harmonically indeterminate core then progresses to the structured conclusion of the composition, as voicessing in concert with the sound of the artwork’s own glass vessels being bowed. The throat singing reemerges, and its steady rhythm drives the piece onward with a newfound identity and cohesion. 

The vessels, arresting in their color and shape,  were recovered by the artist from an abandoned bowling alley in Leipzig, once operated in the former East Germany. With an interest in avoiding sentimentality or nostalgia, Erlund has stripped the objects of their original industrial or functional purpose and, instead, focuses on the potential of their form and tactility to accent and counterpoise the themes of the musical composition.”

Excerpt from “Vessels of Precarity” by William Stewart, published in SHIFT exhibition catalogue 2016.