Visual artist Signe Christine Urdal and composer/musician Gunhild Seim each investigate the relationship between nature and humans in their work. In this short art film they begin their collaboration in the lush Gausel forest in Southwestern Norway over the course of a few summer days in 2021. From the moment Seim and Urdal enter the woods, music and image influence each other and become a meditation on the forest, from the perspectives of both art forms. The trees and the forest play the main part in this work. The soundtrack is composed and performed by noise-drone duo Chattermark (Seim and bass player John Lilja). Urdal’s black and white images consist of natural light and shadow on trees and leaves. Seim was commissioned by the Festival of New Trumpet Music in New York to contribute an audio-visual piece to the 2021 festival, which inspired the collaboration with Urdal. She was also inspired by ecologist Suzanne Simard’s research on how trees talk to each other, making a forest much more than what one can see with the naked eye.
Initially, Seim brought her trumpet to the forest during the filming to see what might happen, and while Seim and Urdal later made another version solely with nature images, this way of working underscored the music’s presence in Urdal’s images from the beginning of the project. Similarly, the music developed while Urdal’s images played in the background. The images are masterfully edited by Jon Garcia de Presno. Mycelium was named «Official selection» by Nature Without Borders International Film Festival 2022.
Review by Norwegian magazine Ballade here.
“From the very first frame of your powerful film, I was catapulted back to what I might call, a primeval imagination. You lead us to a forest bathed in grayscale, a forest in which the light strains to reveal faces in bark, while floating ghost clouds, move too quickly to bother giving testimony. It is the forest of memory, the fern laden forest from which we first came, and abandoned, to walk along the constructs of city corridors. Have we forgotten the music of the forest, and thus, forgotten who we were? Who, then is left to tend to the forest of memory? Every sound, every note we hear, which seem to make the wind rise, the leaves shake, the dust rise and fall to the forest floor, comes from you” Erol Tamerman (Festival of New Trumpet Music) on Mycelium
This link will take you directly to the trumpet festival version of Mycelium from the archive of Festival of New Trumpet Music https://youtu.be/lPughBCPgmo?t=1237 (In the video window below it is paired with two other films). The later version is only available on request.
The work “Mycelium” performed by Chattermark
(Gunhild Seim, trumpet, synth, effects and John Lilja, bass guitar, effects)
Composed by Gunhild Seim and John Lilja
Arranged by Gunhild Seim
Camera: Signe Christine Urdal
Video editing: Jon Garcia DePresno
Music recorded and mixed by Jens Borge at Arthur & Frank Lydstudio, Stavanger
Mastering: Kristian Fanavoll Tvedt / Knappoteket
Music Norway, Norsk Komponistforening, Norsk Jazzforum, Stavanger Kommune and Vestnorsk Jazzsenter
Festival of New Trumpet Music
The background for making “Mycelium” is to raise consciousness about trees. Trees are our kin and rather than treating forests like crops with mostly economic value, we should be sensitive to the exchange we have with trees. The more one strives to notice it, when being close to a tree, the more sense it makes: We rely on each other.