The sound works by Alexander Rishaug and Øystein Wyller Odden have a quality that lends itself to direct experience, and, interestingly, were recorded in buildings that represent political power in Norway: the offices of Oslo’s power (City Hall) and the former offices of the prime minister and government (H-blokka).
Power Line Hum (Composition for the Organ in Oslo City Hall) takes as a starting point the history of the pipe organ in Oslo City Hall. When the building was raised, the elaborate pipe organ that was originally planned was deemed too expensive and was replaced by a Hammond organ. However, the pipes remained as decoration, a “silent facade,” and, for Power Line Hum (Composition for the Organ in Oslo City Hall), several were made functional by the organ builders Ryde & Berg. A wind system was installed to give air to the pipes and the Hammond organ was refurbished. The work contains the sound of these two organs, the previously silent and its electronic replacement, each playing the same chord.
The work was played over the course of several months in Oslo City Hall and reproduced the low humming bass sound made by electricity at a frequency of 50 Hz. This low hum, with the resonances and harmonics it creates in the fuse box, has been transcribed by the artist for reproduction on the organ.
The reproduced hum of the current is the sound of modern society and enters into a dialogue with the social-realist art of previous eras presented in the City Hall.
Kraftbalanse [Power Balance] (Composition for Piano, Alternating Current and Orchestra)
Kraftbalanse [Power Balance] (Composition for Piano, Alternating Current and Orchestra) was co-composed with Jan Martin Smørdal, and performed twice over the course of the biennial in Oslo City Hall. In this monumental space, a dramatic soundscape of a grand piano and a string orchestra responded to fluctuations in current frequency, creating a portrait of power distribution, both of the transmission of electrical power to the country by Statnett, Norway’s state-owned company responsible for the power grid, and, ultimately, the income of the City of Oslo.
Y(59 ° 54’54.76 ″ N 10 ° 44′46.03 ″ Ø)
For his project, Y(59 ° 54’54.76 ″ N 10 ° 44′46.03 ″ Ø), Norwegian artist Alexander Rishaug has conducted sound recordings in the Norwegian government quarter. The recordings were made over two nights in October 2017.
The work can be seen as a sonic portrait of the abandoned building’s current state of haunted emptiness, an emptiness which connects to the events of July 22, 2011.
Y(59 ° 54’54.76 ″ N 10 ° 44′46.03 ″ Ø) will be stream on https://www.oslobiennalen.no/ on May 25.