An Appreciation of the Sound of the Wind in the Trees

Brighton Digital Festival, 2013

By Michael Kemp

We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t… We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing… — Charles Bukowski

A silent car, driverless, glides through a vista of broken hailstones and hipflask figures in doorways down to the fleeting landscapes of Hove and the warm sanctuary of the Old Market.

We take our seats. Pulsating electronic footsteps, a flickering image on the screen, abstract at first, and the phantom ladies of Collectress take their designated places, to the left of the stage, to the left of the animated projection screen. Providing a live soundtrack, along with composer/director Simon Wilkinson himself, are three-quarters of an enchanted string quartet: Alice, Quinta and Rebecca (Caroline Weeks being temporarily absent, presumably searching for exotic feathers in New Guinea).

Our eyes become accustomed to the light. Images take shape and form. Playground swings vacated in the wind. Birds fly out of trees, the stage is set for winter. The winter of our discontent, perhaps. The autumn of our years. A man sits on a park bench and tells us how he looks at the world in much the same way as a cinema audience may look at a film. The bigger picture…

Time-lapse photography, signs, connections, a common sense of mortality (even if the hubris of the local press, intoxicated with their own sense of self-importance, choose to see young and old as two separate species ~ only the truly vacuous would read these exit interviews as “ponderous” ~ and we all get older… some of us… ) ~ a bird glides over the winter horizon ~ branches fade overhead ~ darkness ~ the spell is cast ~ voices speak ~ “Where there is love, there is no law”.

Free-floating existential scenarios, underpinned by Wilkinson on guitar and electronic echoes, a thought-provoking audio/visual mix, and the medieval mummers’ play of Collectress, deep sonorous ‘cello notes stirring the waking heart, baroque, bewitching; the recurring motif of the piano in flames…

Journeys, strangers in cars, parking-ticket dispensers, abandoned European train stations… strange construction sites, discarded bottles wrapped in brown paper, pay phones, maps of the immediate vicinity… none of this is real… Quinta in the fields, electronic heartbeats, the joy of uncertainty (“once you’re sure you’ve got the answer, you’ve stopped living…”) ~ picture break-up, dark stars and astrophysicists, sequencers and loops… a long line of poplar trees in the constant wind…

A staccato jab of the viola, a circle, a cross, unfathomable distances, distortion, sonic interference, the piano still burning like some Hindu funeral pyre ~ reminding us of our common predicament ~ that, in spite of all the comforting banality and dogma of organized religions, we are still standing on this ball, The Earth, which is still spinning blindly through time and space ~ and in the face of that: ~ NONE OF THIS IS REAL…

Rehearsal - 01:08:2013 - The Sound of the Wind in the Trees from Simon Wilkinson on Vimeo.

The Sound of the Wind in the Trees by Simon Wilkinson was performed at the Brighton Digital Festival at the Old Market, Hove, on September 5, 2013.