By Solveig Lønmo, Adresseavisen 11.12.2008
Something like this in Trondheim! I thought in awe as I witnessed Fortellerorkesteret thisweekend.
Ingenious: Frail and man-made, Fortellertorkesteret consists of a thousand small details which still work all by themselves. The audiovisual theatre-installation-exhibition-concert-machine-sculpture is set up in the old submarine bunker out at the New Dock in Trondheim
Fortellerorkesteret can only be compared with itself. The Norwegian, multi-disciplinary art group which makes up Verdensteatret has created a production impossible to categorise. An audiovisual theatre-installation-exhibition-concert-machine-sculpture has arrived in town and has been set up in favourable surroundings in the old submarine bunker out at Nyhavna. Today is the last chance to view this unique work.
Advanced computer engineering controls an electromechanical construction consisting of bits of wood, bones, steel wire and metal amongst may other things. Through movement, light and sound, it transports the audience into a dozen different moods, from the complete harmonious to the uncanny and frightening. The title,Fortellerorkesteret (The Telling Orchestra), reveals an action to be procured, though it is up to each viewer to conjure up the action. Perhaps it is about shifting phases, different time eras, a compressed version of eternity? The Australian aborigines have a sense of something they call "dreamtime", the time of creation, when all was made from nothing for the first time. Fortellerorkesteret has both something of origin and something final about it, as if it is also somehow the end of history.
In the 1920s, the german Bauhaus movement had defined opinions on what the ultimate piece of art ought to be: From the great Richard Wagner they brought the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, the total work of art which combined several art-forms to create a comprehensive, sensuous experience with the audience. Fortellerorkesteretis the high-tech version of the Bauhaus ideals - it is what artists like Oskar Schlemmer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy would have wished they were capable of creating. I also believe a three-dimensional and kinetic version of Marcel DunchampsThe Large Glass could have looked something like this. Modernists such as the above mentioned would have rejoiced in how far Verdensteatret have come in their conception of what is possible - and in the ability to make it happen.
During the course of the 45 minute audiovisual transformations (which then loops itself), some of the Fortellerorketsterets composers have to step up to fix the mechanics - help the construction to function as it should. Instead of disappointing the viewer on the account of failing mechanics, this serves to demonstrate just how ingenious it really is: Frail and man-made, it consists of thousands of small details which work all by themselves. Its vulnerability seems to make it even stronger somehow. Extremely intelligent, the almost ritualistic shadow-play is a mix of rationality and inexplicable mystery.
The organizers present the piece as suitable for all ages, however my fellow viewer and I agree that it would all be material for nightmares if we were kids (then again we were kids in a different decade).