This chapter shows the beginning of abstract human expression, but with an emphasis on what is hidden as much as what can be expressed. The visual artist Thomas Blanchard used smoke, inks and darkness to shroud the dancer Louison Valette as a means of making her expression partly ambiguous. The idea was to show how we can try to communicate but are always limited, and full of uncommunicable information.
Similarly, I used the piece of music to capture something simple but almost inexpressible. It came from an improvisation session where I was playing very freely and trying not to let my conscious thoughts get in the way of the process. It’s an attempt to express the nature of being, which is something ineffable that seems to escape words but which can be put into music. This isn’t a new idea, the historic text of the Tao Te Ching already describes the situation as “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name.” So more than 2500 years ago people were already onto the idea that words cannot capture all there is.
The approach musically uses very few notes and elements, it is mainly just a single chord sequence, yet despite this, for me at least, it holds a lot of ideas and feelings. It uses broken expectations to reference the beauty of imperfection, setting up typical harmonic progressions but not fulfilling or repeating them, and instead adjusting them in slightly unusual or “wrong” ways towards new forms, but without becoming obtuse, and while trying to maintain peace. It is representative of how music can efficiently balance factors in a way that life does, but which is hard to capture efficiently with language.
For the spatial mix with Will Cohen, we opted to leave the screen and the dancer empty of music, with the music only coming from around them, to further link to the idea of our unspoken words and what cannot be directly communicated. For every piece of music we tried to link the Dolby Atmos spatial design to the concept of the music and visual, as well as its more literal mapping of syncing on screen visuals to sound positions.