‘Bergmál’ (icelandic for ‘echo’) - could be translated as "the language of the rock" or "the language of the mountains". In Iceland, a burial is a departure or a trip to the land "jarðarför", "jörð" being the land and "för" the trip. Being buried also means "að vera sunginn til jarðar" being sung to the earth, the church choir sometimes accompanying the coffin and singing psalms when it is lowered.
The Bergmál VR/infrasound project is a collaborative research-creation project that will be undertaken by Eric Filion (visuals) and Michael Trommer (audio) in the spring of 2018. It is intended as a meditation on a specific peoples’ bond to the land – the locus that roots their connection to broader notions of life, death and spirituality. It seeks to capitalize on the cognitive disruption inherent in virtual environments as well as the embodied affective capacities of low-frequency tactile sound to evoke the natural environment as a sublime, awe-inspiring force imbued with quasi-mystical powers.
Visually, the project will exploit VR’s ability to convincingly represent the monumental scale of the Icelandic landscape. It will use 360-degree drone footage to provide an omnidirectional and immersive overview of the geological features characteristic of Iceland’s central plateau and Mid-Atlantic Ridge. A specific focus will be the zones of penetration that characterize the geography’s hydromagmatic fissures – the geysers, volcanoes and springs that function as conduits between the earth’s depths and its surface. Specifically, Bergmál will function as a vehicle for the exploration of the narrative capabilities associated with virtual reality’s evocation of spatio-temporal dislocation, seeking to elicit a profound, self-reflexive response to a transcendent volcanic landscape – one which has resonated deeply (and continues to do so) with those who inhabit it.
Sonically, surround-sound field recordings will replicate the three-dimensional acoustic effect of being within the vast spaces, whereas infrasonic/tactile elements (frequencies below the threshold of hearing of 20Hz – sound that is felt rather than heard) will be recorded and disseminated via the Subpac wearable haptic interface. This vibratory component is intended to constitute a corporeal and emotional presence; the physiological and psychological effects of low frequency, and infrasound in particular, have been documented as being particularly intense – reactions include the experiencing of chills and extreme sorrow and fear as well as a feeling of “being watched” by “unseen presences in the room” (Tandy and Lawrence 4). Bergmál will articulate these intensely affective capacities of sound with a view to capitalizing on the manner in which senses recalibrate themselves within the VR phenomenon, that is, the profound synthesis of wonder and terror that occur in the face of an ‘unknown’, a response that characterizes the experience of the sublime, for example – as well as that of virtual reality.
To summarize, Bergmál will function as a research project that will investigate the capabilities of virtual reality to generate unique and deeply emotive narrative audio-visual forms. It will do so by exploiting the embodied affective capacities of VR (both sonic and visual) in order to evoke a peoples’ profound spiritual resonance with a landscape – one that exists as a singular interface between a fathomless subterrestrial and the surface upon which a community lives, thinks and dreams before they are returned to the earth.
Tandy, Vic and Tony R. Lawrence. “The Ghost in the Machine.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 62.851 (April 1998): 360-364. Print.
360 cinema (VR)
Technology: GOPRO FUSION VR
Iceland road map (film spotting)
Tactile audio system
SubPac is a tactile audio system, designed and developed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The SubPac consists of a combination of tactile transducers, vibro-tactile membranes, electronics and textiles, designed to deliver a physical dimension of sound.
‘Bergmal (icelandic) echo - could be translated as "the language of the rock" or "the language of the mountains". In Iceland, a burial is a departure or a trip to the land "jarðarför", "jörð" being the land and "för" the trip. Being buried also means "að vera sunginn til jarðar" being sung to the earth, the church choir sometimes accompanying the coffin and singing psalms when it is lowered.
«Bergmal (Islandais)» – l’écho – pourrait se traduire par « le langage de la roche » ou encore « la langue des montagnes ». En Islande, un enterrement est un départ ou bien un voyage à la terre « jarðarför », « jörð » étant la terre et « för » le voyage. Être enterré se dit aussi « að vera sunginn til jarðar » être chanté à la terre, la chorale de l’église accompagnant parfois le cercueil et chantant des psaumes quand il est abaissé.
Credit (sound designer)
Michael Trommer is a Toronto-based producer, sound designer and sound artist; his experimental work has been focused primarily on psychogeographical and acoustemological explorations via the use of field recordings, infra- and ultrasound, as well as multi-channel installation and expanded video techniques.
He has released material on an unusually diverse roster of labels, both under his own name as well as 'sans soleil'. These include Transmat, Wave, Ultra-red, and/OAR, Audiobulb, Audio Gourmet, Gruenrekorder, Impulsive Habitat, Stasisfield, Serein, Flaming Pines, 3leaves, Unfathomless and con-v. His audio-visual installation work has been exhibited at Australia’s ‘Liquid Architecture’ festival, Kunsthalle Schirn in Frankfurt, Cordoba’s art:tech and Köln’s soundLAB, among others.
Michael has performed extensively in North America, Europe and Asia, including events with members of Berlin's raster-noton collective, as well as the 2008 and 2013 editions of Mutek's acclaimed a/visions series. He also regularly improvises with Toronto-based AI audio-visual collective 'i/o media'.
His sound design work encompasses composition, audio branding, installation and VR audio for clients such as Moment Factory, Intel and Yahoo, as well as soundtrack and production development for a variety of international cinema, dance and installation artists.
In addition to teaching sound design and Think Tank at OCAD University, he is currently a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Arts at York University.