And All the Questionmarks
Started to Sing

Songs from a totally different floor

Review by S. Ziegler Published. Morgenbladet 2010

To write a review on something as original as Verdensteatret might be experienced as similar to being put to review a Rorschach-test. Which at the same time might not be so far fetched as a metaphor. As the symmetrical ink spot, this work is also a blend of strict order and accidental coincident and what you get out of this performance will, to some degree, be a reflection of yourself.

That is if it’s proper to use the phrase ”performance” -with the connotations that this gives – as a description of this hybrid of abstract object theatre, multimedia-performance and sculptures through sound, image and time.
A dimly lit stage filled with projections, people and machines. The performers on the stage function both as actors and instrumentalists, and play on intricate sound and image-producing machines – steel rods and rough welding-lines, at weave of cables and memorables from another technological area. Some of these odd objects are used as an interface to manipulate sound via computers. Others again are functioning analog; by the help of joysticks made of metal stics and tiny electro-motors the performers can control and move light, lenses and small robot arms to create a semiabstract shadow theatre that again is projected on the walls. Some of the performers has from time to time short monologues but the sound is distorted to a level where it is not possible to detect other that parts of the speech, more like the mood of the speech, the color and melody of the language in use.
All this are executed after a set detailed score, even though there are some small room for improvisation here and there, or maybe rather ornamentations, as in music.

Visual Music
Music is another descriptive analogy for Verdensteatret’s rusty choir of traces from civilizations and digital nature-mystique. Like music, this is not a narrative art, but neither is it without semiotic value. In this art form humans and machines gather in a dance that produce a rain of references through sound and images that strengthen each other and contradict each other, or cast the light on each other from unexpected angles and distort the associations. Personally I think of the counter-point pieces by the minimalistic composer Steve Reich, where almost banal simple melody-lines glides and shift in position to each other until they change our experience of the rhythm and the melody in the other voices. It becomes a trampoline for our associative abilities.

I guess they could have programmed all this to work automatically. But by letting such a high-tech piece be operated through a low-tech control-interface the chain of actions become possible to grasp, and when this is again controlled in real time by people, they induce a level of suspension and a feeling of risk.

Elements of accident become detectable and brought up to the surface, which leaves something indeterminate. This open space of questions is laid out in front of us to play with and to fill in.

Springboard for associations

Don’t ask me how, but Verdensteatret must have found some secret backdoor into the consciousness. Like the ink spot of Rorschach this piece functions as a catapult for the association-ability, but the springboard here is far more resilient. The curve of the jump will be dependent on weight, velocity and attack but I think anyone who jumps will experience a high flight.

To let William Blake sum it all up: And all the question marks started to sing presents a simple gaze of wonder that allures music out of the wonderment and all the questions -and allow us to see “a world in a grain of sand”.

And All the Questionmarks Started to Sing refresh the “art” concept—The 8th Shanghai Biennale 

by Fan Xin Published in Wenhui Newspaper  Oct 26 2010

The 8th Shanghai Biennale presented the installation “And All the Questionmarks Start to Sing” in one of the biggest exhibition halls at the museum. It is a composition in the form of a hybrid between sculpture, installation and concert. Someone said that the first sight of this installation gives almost the same feeling as  the first time you watched the film ”Avatar” in IMAX, -it is a great shock. 

The normal consept we have of all kinds of art: --- “a completed project”, “a detailed summary”, “a spesific art style, wheter it is music, paint, or any other way as well to express the life and society.  

But now no unitary art style anymore, this work is totally refreshing the normal “ART” concept.

 It is a dark room, quite big, like a basketball playground, flooding of electronic music and the mechanic grating sound of machines. It is hard to compare this with a normal exhibition project, hundreds of cables and lots of props in the room make people confused. Some wonder if it is a film shooting scene, and it must be kind of science fiction film. Where shall the audiences look? Several huge “things” seemingly made of bike wheels standing in the middle of the room, looking like sculptures or installations, sometimes it starts running automatically, sometimes the staff went over to them to move them; Meanwhile shadow-play and cartoons is performing separately without any tips or indication, it is sparkling and exciting; Various equipments are stacked on a long table in the corner, several staff are sitting in front of the table, controlling all the “buttons”; Cables thickly dotted on the floor. Some audience come in and sit on the floor, someone passes through the room. In this certain field, it is hard to distinguish the performers from the audience. 

This multiple work combined of installation, performance and concert is presented by the most creative art group “Verdensteatret”. The premiere of the final live-version took place at Black Box Theatre, Oslo in the beginning of September 2010. All objects produce art and are also a part in it. This intermedia and diversity project with its own logic is telling us some hidden secret, stories behind and pushes us to explore the potential itself.    

This magical performance appears as a landscape of highly original kinetic sculptures, it is like a rehearsal of a dream made by the installation itself. What is the dream? It depends on every different person viewing it. It doesnt tell us any truth, it just presents the process of producing. Maybe it is not important for the normal audience to understand the meaning, but this work called out all the senses of the human being and the power of life is vividly portrayed. People cannot classify “Verdensteatret “like any other art styles. There are many artists of different backgrounds in this group. Like video, performance, programmer and also composer, painter, sound and even electric welding staff. They have cooperated and created a tight combination of all the different subjects, showing the public a unique and complicated visual universe. They say the installation is made of hundreds of moving pieces and fragile objects; it seems like the dream will suddenly brake at any time. Once it is falling apart, broken or had some trouble, the artists need to mend it or change their work; As for the philosophy: everything is changing all the time; anytime is the starting point and also the ending point — And it is impossible to finish this kind of work. It goes on forever, because its meaning lies mostly in the process.

Extracts from reviews, Shanghai Biennale 2010

The Shangaiist:
…For art, last weekend was about as big as it gets for Shanghai. And the main event is -- the Shanghai Biennale.
…The 2nd floor isn't much. But then you get to the 3rd floor, which is this amazing paradise-like maze of huge installations that mix film with art with performance and all that whatnot. There was this piece -- And All the Question Marks Started to Sing by Verdensteatret.

Now dear reader, if you pay any attention to anything in this slightly over glorified art orgy, this should be it! It made me feel like a kid with a death wish! Which, in my book at least, is an amazing thing to accomplish. It is just breathtaking! Sound meets visual meets installation in an exploration of every sense that you have and didn't know you had. I had hair on end where one shouldn't even have hair. It might just be me, and I don't care about anyone else's opinion, but I think this was absolutely fantastic. STAY THERE, WATCH IT! ENJOY IT!....

Shanghai Biennale Welcomes Visitors with Living Paintings and a Dizzying Array of Art
….The most obvious connotation is that of theatre and performance, both of which are peppered throughout this year's show. The most striking, perhaps, is a vast and complex installation called And all the question marks started to sing. The very name evokes one of those crazy dreams that wake you with a jolt, the kind that you relive, each time remembering different parts of a confusing, elusive jigsaw. And that's how it feels. In a grand, high-ceiling-ed room of the Art Museum, a concert is playing. The musicians, though, are DJs, robots and sinister looking contraptions comprising bicycle wheels and crocodile clips, all casting eerie shadows on the dimly lit, white walls. Utterly mesmerizing, quietly terrifying, the work by the Verdensteatret collective is a must-see….

World ART:
….But to experience the biennale at its best, one should visit the two rooms that house installations of a theatrical bent.
The Norwegian artists group “Verdensteatret” turned out to be the most amazing rehearsal item. It is so pity their performance just lasting for the opening week…. 


…….. but as ever with  Biennales, there were highs and lows. One high, and rather privileged experience, was seeing the performance by ‘Verdensteatret’ of their piece ‘And all the questionmarks started to sing’, an electro-mechanical installations (2010). It was a synchronised, choreographed installation, musical performance with an overwhelming audio soundtrack. Completely engaging in every capacity as you questioned how the performers interacted with the objects and mechanics so finitely. This room was so full during the press preview. Everyone wanted to see a piece of it. The silence from the audience in relation to the sounds of the installation and performance created this intense atmosphere, almost chilling. You can’t really grasp it until you go to the artists’ website that shows it better through their own photos…..

World Spins (Bicycle Wheels, Too)

By Gia Kourlas. The New York Times, 27. Feb. 2001

With a title like “And All the Question Marks Started to Sing,” there is much room for the imagination, and that’s a fine thing. Performed by the Norwegian art collective Verdensteatret on Friday night at Dance Theater Workshop, this production continued the group’s magical explorations into hybrid forms in which performance, installation, animation and sound unite for the good of art.

Verdensteatret, formed in 1986 by Lisbeth Bodd and Asle Nilsen, brings together artists from different fields — in the case of “And All the Question Marks” there are 14 — who strive to create links between technology and odd or old-fashioned objects that on the surface have little to do with the one another. It’s a glittering junkyard.

At the start of the work, also presented by FuturePerfect and Performance Space 122, the stage, framed by rough pale walls, was a scribble of wires and microphone stands. Bicycle wheels dotted the landscape like trees, and the setting, somehow a mixture of icy and playful, was like an industrial forest in which you suddenly found yourself smelling with your eyes and seeing with your ears.

Gracing the center of the stage was a bouquet of bicycle wheels, their rims covered in flowers. After Gjertrud Jynge, along with Oyvind B. Lyse, dragged the contraption to the side, it lived on as an urban sculpture: a roadside shrine and an extravagant ghost bike rolled into one.

Wheels were everywhere in “And All the Question Marks,” and as they started to spin and as projections of clouds rolled along the walls, the stage crackled and hummed, and there were groans and surges of electric guitar. Yet despite the motion created from the objects and video, it was the sound that leaped and twisted through space. Gradually the air came to life.

Two other performers, Hai Nguyen Dinh and Ali Djabbary, infiltrated the installation, but the walls became the real canvas. There delicate moments of shadow play and animation drifted past or lingered: birds, larger than life, rose and fell, lifting off with the sweep of majestic wings. Filaments from light bulbs were transformed into dancing insects — they even did a pas de deux — as their fine threads quivered like antennae within a halo of light. Ms. Jynge, wearing a billowy white dress, stood with her face behind a flower-rimmed wheel. Spinning it with demon strength, she became, on the wall, a sunflower-doll.

What held the images together was the mesmerizing lighting, which shifted between a sepia veil and a range of the palest greens, blues and yellows. For some reason it felt like an old-fashioned carnival at dusk, when the sky grasps at the last few minutes of daylight, and the debris is not garbage but residue of the past. The moment the lights went out it wasn’t simply the end of the show; the sounds stopped dancing.

A Review of Verdensteatret’s And All the Questionmarks Started to Sing at EMPAC

By Briavel Schultz. The Free George

This past Friday I saw Verdensteatret’s And All the Question Marks Started to Sing at the Experimental Media Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, NY.

Picture this: The humongous room is dark. You are seated arena-style, with the action happening down on the ground. Three huge projection screens are set up like a three-sided mirror in the background of the stage.

In the foreground the stage and the floor are littered with sculptures, as many as in a sculpture garden. The sculptures are industrial and eerie, like post-apocalyptic machinery. They are created from junk, but still look delicate and spindly; wires criss-cross all over the floor.

Most of the sculptures involve bicycle wheels. Oddly enough, each wheel is decorated with white flowers; it is no accident that white is the color of funeral flowers. One particularly large sculpture looked like a veritable tree of flowered bicycle wheels. Later, I ask one of the Verdensteatret members about this large sculpture, and she tells me it is named the Funeral Machine.

I should warn my readers up front: I am a chicken. So when I say I was ready to bolt within the first five minutes of the show does not mean you would feel the same way.

You know how they say the scariest part of a horror movie is the music? I think this performance proved that point. From the very beginning the room was filled with a popping static, like we were trapped inside on old radio stuck on an empty channel.

Then one of the performers started whistling. Whistling or summoning, I couldn’t tell. Without warning the whistling morphed into a hellish maelstrom of noise.

The Funeral Machine lit up in the middle of the room like a burning cross. All of its wheels were spinning chaotically, and the screaming thunder engulfed the theatre. It was only my great journalist dedication that kept me in my seat, because otherwise I would have booked it. It was that freaky.

Things calmed down a little after that, but the distrust had been firmly cemented. It should be noted thatAnd All the Question Marks Started to Sing deliberately has no plot, no characters, no melody, and no message. It does have an endless supply of striking audio and visual components, creating an abstract, sensory ocean for viewers to journey through.

The Verdensteatret members float from one sculpture to the next. It quickly becomes apparent to the audience that each sculpture has a different purpose through the power of suggestion. When one bicycle wheel is turned, it is a suggested radio knob. When another turns, it is like the steering helm of a ship. When yet another turns it is like an old, spinning vinyl record.

The sounds and the movements come and go, whether prompted by one of the Verdensteatret, or of their own accord. There are always two worlds in the performance: the one happening, and the one playing out in the shadows on the walls. The scene on the walls comes from natural shadow play and projectors. Stormy skies, old European cities, birds, and machines all dance across the walls to mix with the found shadows.

Death is never explicitly mentioned during the show. I had to ask in order to discover the name of the Funeral Machine. Yet, death is curiously called to mind throughout the performance. Maybe it’s the eerie aesthetics and supernatural sounds. Maybe it’s because the flickering and static makes the viewer feel immersed in an old black and white movie. Perhaps it’s because Verdensteatret has successfully created a shadow world, and death and shadows are inexorably liked in the human conscious.

The Verdensteatret members themselves strike me as ghosts. In the same way a ghost might throw a table or make a cell phone go haywire, so the Verdensteatret performers manipulate their sculpture world to make eerie sounds and sights. The biggest question is whether they are ghosts from the past or ghosts from the future.

And All The Question Marks Started to Sing will be the opening show at the Future Perfect 2011 Festival in NYC. Verdensteatret is a collective artist group from Oslo, Norway who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

Verdensteatret: “And all the Question Marks Started to Sing”

Originally published in the Times Union.  18. Feb. 2011 

“It looks like a group of very bad, very nervous engineers have been there.”

That’s the Norwegian multi-disciplinary artist Lisbeth J. Bodd’s attempt to describe “And All the Question Marks Started to Sing.” During our long-distance interview it probably didn’t occur to her that the theater piece would actually be appearing at an engineering school.

“All the Question Marks…” will be performed tonight and Friday (2/17-18) at EMPAC, on the RPI campus.  It’s the second appearance at the venue by Bodd and her experimental company, Verdensteatret, which was founded in 1986 in Oslo. They participated in EMPAC’s opening festival two years ago with a piece bearing the intimidating name “Louder,” that featured not just amplified sound but a varied battery of other new and old media.

Typical of the hybrid events on the EMPAC stages, Verdensteatret’s latest work is another mixture of genres.  This time, it’s a blend of theater and sculpture.  A dozen performers and technicians will create an hour-long work and then the stage will be opened for audience members to wander around and get a closer look at the combination of junkyard objects and electronic gadgets that form the set.

Nilsen and Bodd explained that the genesis of a Verdensteatret piece is long and laborious. “All the Question Marks…” was two years in the making.

Typically the collaborators do everything from programming the computers and to welding together the elements of the set. “Everything is made from the very bottom up,” says Nilsen.

During its history, Verdensteatret has toured the world and its creations have been featured not just in theatrical venues but also in art galleries and museums.  After their appearance in Troy, they’ll bring “All the Question Marks…” to the Dance Theatre Workshop in New York for four performances. The run will inaugurate a new series titled “FuturePerfect,” intended to highlight works that bring together art and technology — a mission strikingly similar to that of EMPAC.

Whether they’re performing for the culture elite of Manhattan or some engineering students in Troy, the Verdensteatret team just wants to be offered the same open-mindedness that they put into the building of their pieces.

“We hope that we have made something that people can relate to,” says Bodd. “Audiences should just stay open, as if they were going to a concert or seeing a painting.”

As a kid, did you used to turn your bicycle upside down and balance it on its handlebars and seat? And then spin the wheels and think they were magic?  Have you ever wished the steering wheel of your car controlled the music on the stereo, and could make it play forward or backward, or faster or slower?

You know that cute gooseneck desk lamp that sort of turns its head and smiles at you just before the start of a Pixar film?  How would you like to meet its extended family of luminous technological life forms, watch them dance and mate in near darkness?

Ever wondered about the secret life of light bulbs? Would you like to spend a while inside the mind of Thomas Alva Edison?

Can you picture a giant metal sculpture with half a dozen poles reaching up 10 or 15 feet high, each capped by round discs tilted at various angles as if to catch rays of sun? What if they are set against a dreary junkyard landscape and yet the whole imagine was somehow cheerful and made you think of flowers?

Does it usually annoy you when folks behind you during a performance are whispering incessantly? And yet, has it happened that you’re not really bothered by it because the gentle minutia of sounds they’re making kind of fits in with the bizarreness of the show you’re experiencing?

Have you read artsy jargon, terms like “object theater,” and wondered what in the world these people are talking about?  And then go to a show and saw frail little metal constructions that seem to act of their own accord and you say to yourself, “Oh, is that what they meant?”

Would you like to be a chic European performance artist in a company called Verdensteatret? How about making lots of noise and get grant funding and international travel for your efforts?  And maybe go onstage and do a flirtatious dance with another artist, while the two of you also create a sonic collage out of old jazz recordings?

Verdensteatret—Theater Inside-Out, Plus Zorn

by Susan Yung 03. mar. 2011

Imagine a traditional theater—an empty stage surrounded by curtain legs which hide surrounding sound and lighting equipment. Then imagine all the people who operate this equipment—the sound engineers, musicians, lighting people, stage manager, moving silently but with purpose. Now imagine turning the whole shebang inside out so that all these normally invisible people and pieces of equipment were dumped and artfully arranged center stage, and the walls were pushed out to the edges to catch whatever sound and imagery were produced from within. And the audience watches the mechanics of the production as a choreographed ritual, a means to produce an often dream-like, sometimes nightmarish, soundscape and visual environment. The Norwegian collective Verdensteatret’s And All the Question Marks Started to Sing, last week at DTW (which co-presented it with FuturePerfect andPS 122), felt like this inside-out theater.

Like Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, the choreography is an result of creating the music. The patterns made by the performers are designed by function, with the addition of a little bit of dramatic flair. The sound takes on endless manifestation, from murmuring shushes to thunderous peals. The visuals range from the Monty Python-esque—a variety of tiny light bulbs that when magnified resemble quirky antennaed characters, to videos of blimps and birds. The main visual attraction are the mechanics of the set itself; several stands of wires, lenses, small iron “steering” wheels, floral-rimmed bicycle wheels, and mics comprise the bulk of it, plus some gramophone-style rotating speakers. It may rely on technology for its full spectrum of effects and mighty sounds, but it seems to share a heart with simple carnival handshadow puppetry.

Speaking of technology, the perpetually sold-out Guggenheim Works & Process series is now livestreaming events (and archiving the video), so no more excuses for missing some of the most interesting dance (and other cultural) programming around. Last weekend’s John Zorn Interpreted—New Choreography by Donald Byrd and Pam Tanowitz is a perfect example. Two accomplished choreographers of separate visions and generations, united by an unconventional music choice, commissioned to create brand new, 20+ minute ballets with full costumes and top dancers (including the outstanding Kylie Lewallen and Ashley Tuttle).

The format is essentially a lecture/demo, but they have become more polished in recent years (rehearsal clothes used to be the norm), featuring more commissions by accomplished artists. The limits are really the house—a tiny stage with limited lighting options and a small audience capacity. At least the second problem is addressed with the addition of livestreaming. Upcoming dance events include a program curated by Robert Wilson, the Royal Danish Ballet, and a new work by Lynne Taylor-Corbett.

Solomons Says

By Gus Solomons jr. Solomons Says 28th February 2011

“And All The Question Marks Started to Sing” at Dance Theater Workshop (February 24-27) isn’t what you’d call dance in any conventional way.  It combines sound, video, and sculpture into an intense 45-minutes that keep you wondering, how do they do that?  And what is this?  And who thought this up?  As these question marks dance through your head, singing before you is a creation like nothing you’ve seen, and you stare wide-eyed at the ingenuity of the spectacle. 

The Norwegian group produces a most provocative poetry that resists definition.  But the complete integration of 19th century toy making, 20th century traditional puppetry, and 21st century electronics hints at an exciting new direction for live performance.  The appearance of Verdensteatret is the inaugural event of FuturePerfect 2011, a new initiative founded by artistic director/producer Wayne Ashley, dedicated to hybrids of performance art and technology. 

DTW’s stage is made to resemble a museum gallery with gray walls at the sides and rear, and a column, off-center, upstage.  A series of contraptions fashioned from bicycle wheels, clips, cables, and wires are scattered around the space; industrial-strength conical speakers at the sides occasionally swivel on their bases. Small spotlights, strategically placed on the floor, throw shadows of equipment and performers on the walls. 

At the start of the piece, the most visually elaborate of the doodads proudly confronts us, downstage center.  Its many bike wheels are rimmed with flowers and feathers, and some have mesh or plastic woven through their spokes.  The wheels spin at various speeds with choreographic articulation.  A puffin appears on the back wall, projected faintly.

Hai Nguyen Dinh enters into the dimness of the space and whistles; then, by holding some kind of device to his mouth, he turns his whistling into loud static roars.  Ali Djabbary, who has been spinning wheels upstage, moves down and recites text in – I assume – Norwegian.  Gjertrud Jynge in a black dress sings into a microphone, which transforms her voice into wailing electronic sounds.  Øyvind B. Lyse gets up from a seat in the front row and manipulates a complex optical device that throws a circle of light on the back wall; spinning lenses animate small electronic components in the halos of light.

A tiny glass capsule with projections that look like a nose and a fedora hat becomes a guy who flirts with a little bundle of wires that’s the object of his affection.  Another light bulb with bent wire appendages bobs and spins in its spotlight like a disco dancer.  

At one point, the four performers exit the stage, and the machines perform on their own, controlled by unseen forces; the gears turn and plungers plunge, driven by wireless remote control from the rear of the theater.  At the curtain call we discover that eight others in addition to the four onstage performers are involved in making the magic.   

At the climax, projected birds’ wings loom on all the walls, and the sound swells to a deafening pitch.  The rich sonic and visual imagery is at once dramatic and abstract, exquisitely detailed and theatrical. 

It is significant that this hybrid work of art found itself at DTW, a primarily dance venue.  If, as the sixties dance revolution posited, dance in the broadest terms requires only organized motion, and not necessarily people doing it.  With Verdensteatret, which translates “theater of the world,” we are seeing what may be the future – a potentially exciting mix of live and electronic performance. 

A Refined Blend of Theatre, Music and visual art

By C. Dutta. Hindustantimes 2011

In what was supposedly the cultural capital of the country, the city of Kolkata has lost out to Bombay and Delhi in the last fifty years or so – when it comes to hosting important international art events. With the sudden cancellation of the Ibsen festival that was to be held in Delhi – Kolkata got lucky.

The Norwegian team, ready with a grand installation project for the festival, found themselves without a venue to present their work. The prompt intervention of the Norwegian Consulate General and the immense resourcefulness of Inger Buersund of Ibsen International helped the shift of venue to the grand site of the Currency building at Dalhousie square, Kolkata. Credit goes to the ASI for lending the venue and to Padatik for responding as the local facilitator.

The contemporary artists’ group from Norway ‘Verdensteatret’ launched what it called ‘performance concert’ with the title - New Technology Meets Rusty Machines “AND ALL THE QUESTION MARKS START SINGING” on the 9th evening, was nothing short of a grand and spectacular happening. It left those who encountered the experience with several questions. Was it theatre, sculptural assemblage, an installation performance or was it a concert that one had experienced?

It was really a bit of all. The group was founded in 1986 in Oslo, Norway, by Lisbeth J. Bodd and Alsen Neilsen – theatre and visual arts bachelors – with another twelve creative individuals from the fields of robotics, music and sound and other visual art backgrounds. The team collaborated in work-shop situations for over years and arrived at the concept of ‘crossover’ – which, in the context of contemporary culture, has been well accepted as evidence of everyday life and artistic research and practice.

‘Crossover’ refers to the inclusion of and permeation between traditionally different disciplines and media. ‘And All the Question Marks Started to Sing’ is a composition between automatic installation, performance and concert, that references and connects Marcel Duchamp, Jean Tinguely, Heiner Muller, Christian Boltanski and Nicholas Schoffer, while remaining singularly original. It might be described as a work that appears to be a landscape of kinetic sculptures that activate a diverse range of animation techniques, micro-puppetry, music, lights and shadow-play – an art-machine played by musicians, performers and robots.

Caught within this electro-mechanical orchestration of machines that create immersive situations for the viewer to surrender to and lose orientation, one is tempted to recall Nicholas Schoffer’s quote - “the task of an artist is not to produce meaning, but to produce”. Verdensteatret never presents you with a ready-made meaning, but instead reveals the production of a meaning. By setting a large scale, unstoppable play of references in motion, the orchestration lays the groundwork for meaning to develop, where the audience becomes a witness to the creation of an expression by the rusty mechanics of the machine.

Art as created by Verdensteatret comes into existence at one moment, only to disappear the next. The idea of the perfect moment is discarded.  Instead, disappearance is made a part of appearance. Verdensteatret’s machines perform as a mesmerizing orchestra without a conductor.

Gods of machines

Published The Times of India 08 Desember 2011

What if you could create music and make videos by just turning a wheel?

Verdensteatret, a group of installation artists from Norway are doing just that inside the crumbling Currency Building on Dalhousie Square. The dilapidated exterior can easily beguile a curious onlooker as to what's going on inside. The courtyard looks exactly like a setting for a science fiction flick - wheels of every size mounted on pedestals, large convex lenses refracting rays of projected light, eerie, distorted shadows on a large plastered wall. Robotics or poetry in motion?

"It all starts with a tiny detail," says Asle Nilsen, a senior artist of the group. "For us, it started with a lamp, an object and a lens. It then grew organically and included machines and projections. Now, it's more complex and sophisticated. As we go along, we try to discover what machines can do for us, add a soundscape, include videos and try and see what becomes of it. Machines give us endless possibilities to toy with," he said. "And in the process, the objects interact with their surrounding space to develop a language of its own.

The logic, the purpose and the goal of the artwork take shape on their own," added Piotr Pajchel, another artist. Talking of space, we asked them why they made the Currency Building, a structure that was partially demolished to make way for a highrise, the setting for their show. "This building has such an interesting architecture. It's history will add another layer to our composition," feels senior artist Lisbeth Bodd.

For this motley crew of artists, storytelling is all about weaving layers of information together. Lisbeth feels that Kolkata, as a city, offers them many such layers to talk about. "You stand in one corner of a crossroad and see so many stories unfolding themselves simultaneously. The contrast, the variety of moods makes it a perfect setting for artwork such as ours." Needless to say, the group has already explored the quaint bylanes of College Street, took boat rides on the Ganges and marvelled at the chaotic activities on Mallick Ghat at dawn.

The installation is named "And All The Questionmarks Started to Sing" - a line from Nobel prize winning Swedish poet Thomas Transtromer's The Great Enigma - and starts off on Saturday. It is a hybrid between automatic installation, performance and concert set in a landscape of kinetic sculptures. "You might rack your brains finding answers to some very tough questions in life. But if you can make these questionmarks sing, the answers don't matter," elaborated Asle, adding that with its diverse setting, Kolkata might just be the inspiration behind their next artwork.

Physically, the work involves animation, micro-puppetry, music, lights and shadowplay. All the objects contribute in producing the resultant artwork but also are part of it. Science fiction or artwork, without a dekko, it's impossible to make the questionmarks in ones mind sing!

Junkyard Groove

By Nayantara Mazumder Pulished The Telegraph / Calcutta India

When images leap out at you from a static canvas, you’re struck by the movement in art and its meaning. The motion your mind sees gives the work a form that takes it beyond the stillness of the image. And then you see Verdensteatret, a Norwegian art collective that makes sure that the movement in art is seen with the eyes before any of the other senses get to it. The Royal Norwegian Embassy brought the 14-member-group and its installation art production, And All the Question Marks Started to Sing, to the Currency Building in Calcutta from December 10 to 15.

Given the absence of a domed ceiling at the Currency Building, Verdensteatret had to arrange for a makeshift roof of bamboo poles and cloth for its show, which depended largely on lights, tints and shadowplay. A huge room was strewn with weird, industrial sculptures that looked as if they had been picked out of a junkyard. Old bicycle wheels, held together mysteriously, whirred in the air every now and then, in tandem with the eerie sound of an electric guitar. A machine of figures, made up of flotsam and old glass bulbs with tiny filaments, stood in the middle of the floor — stark and small against the huge projection screens. And in this landscape of kinetic sculptures, these tiny actors in the machine surrendered to the strength of the light and orchestral work, creepy beauty and otherworldly sounds. Verdensteatret wove a seamless and incoherent sequence of images that had no story, no tune and no sense. And it was beautiful.

A fluidity is unleashed as a dreamscape of shifting perspectives unfolds. Minuscule robotic arms and filaments are manipulated expertly to create the unreal. With projections ranging from the predatory, stealthy shadow of a bulb and sweeping European cities to cavorting insects and gigantic birds on the screen, And All the Question Marks Started to Sing leaves the viewer oscillating between being incredulous, tired and fascinated — all the while hoping that the show doesn’t end anytime soon.

The superb play of light and shadow sharpened the meaningless complexity of Verdensteatret’s show. Moving — sometimes jerkily, sometimes smoothly — from pale shades to sepia masks, the colours invoked the death of a long weary day at dusk. The images were puppets in the hands of the lights — and when the light faded, the echoes stood still.

The music — distorted, gripping and controlled with slick motorized programming — steals out of the room every now and then, only to creep back and scare you from behind as the apocalyptic junkyard wheels pick up pace and whir madly. You watch helplessly because there is nothing you can do. The huge bird on the screen suddenly twists its head and looks at you, transfixing you with its blank, malevolent gaze. Then, to your horror, it spreads its wings and takes off, as Verdensteatret quietly slinks into your unsuspecting consciousness.

Le Soleil

by Patrice Laroche. Publié le 10 février 2011

(Québec) La troupe norvégienne Verdensteatret présente sa plus récente composition théâtrale au 12e Mois Multi : un enchaînement de microrécits peuplés de géants de métal, de personnages ampoules et d'oiseaux surnaturels. Charmant et envoûtant, pour peu que vous laissiez votre esprit cartésien à la maison.

Si Globo. Digital. Glossary de la compagnie russe AKHE vous avait intéressé l'an dernier, ce spectacle vous plaira assurément.

De magnifiques machines, faites de tiges de métal, de fils et de menus accessoires, peuplent la scène. Le vent souffle, gronde. Quelques notes retentissent. Une grande sculpture composée de roues de bicyclette, décorées comme des couronnes mortuaires, pousse soudain un cri déchirant, qui nous transporte dans l'univers de And All the Questionmarks Started to Sing.

Les interprètes contrôlent le son et l'image de ce qui ressemble à une grande boîte cinématographique, à l'aide des accessoires. Nous verrons des images de films d'archives, modifiées en direct, du théâtre d'ombre avec de micromarionnettes, et des scènes qui combinent projections et théâtre.

Les acteurs ne sont pas que manipulateurs, ils jouent : avec leur voix, qui devient texture sonore, avec tout leur corps et avec ces machines, qui se métamorphosent graduellement en instruments de musique, pour un ultime concert qui permettra de consoler la bête.

À moins de comprendre le norvégien, vous ne saisirez pas un traître mot «audible» de la représentation. Mais ça importe peu... Les images et les sons nous chuchotent des histoires tout au long de la représentation.