Besides the hair work, the music and sounds played a big part in putting me into a trance-like state – What kind of brief do you give a band for a soundtrack that accompanies a hair cave? Absolutely, I think the piece can really evoke some primitive feelings, where you feel embraced, and it’s very womb-like. There is also something to be said about the sub-terra feeling, and mother earth, and the earth being the womb. Especially growing up in Iceland; we live on a rock that is alive so there are murmurs and gurgling and explosions and volcanic activity and water bubbling. I grew up going to a sauna built on a non-erruptive geyser and that was always like *woob woob woob*. The sound of earth is very near us here in Iceland and after the earthquake and the eruption of the glacier Eyjafjallajökull a few years back, I was walking in the landscape in Iceland and I could feel and hear explosions underneath my feet deep in the earth. And it was almost like punching me under the soles of my feet and it felt really powerful. Like you’re walking on top of this beast that is the earth. It’s not a static, solid, not-changing-anytime-soon type of land. It’s very much alive, and breathing, and spewing and making noises. It feels intense in a way, but at the same time if that’s how you grow up then that’s the norm. So I think in that sense my work is really referencing the big cliché of Icelandic landscape being a major influence, and I cherish that and I welcome and honour it. It’s just the fact.
The band had never done any soundscape before, they were used to doing three minute songs. So they started by doing the Chromo Sapiens anthem and then went into doing more improvised things. So they came, the music was tweaked, and then they installed all the speakers and the way the sounds come out differently from each individual speaker. It’s not just one recording coming out of all speakers. They’re also positioned in a way where it hits you more on the chest more than in your ears, so it had to be fine-tuned by Skúli Sverrisson who is a master bass player and musician who produced the soundscape with the band. And Tim Glasgow and my husband designed the sound design in the caves, even using a programme to create the echo. Because the hair subdues the sound and because it’s a cave you want to have a certain echo chamber element to it, some reverb, and he found a layer that he could put onto the music that was actually recorded inside a three chamber cave, with two smaller ones and a big one. He just happened to stumble upon this particular effect that you can select to layer the music with so it sounds like it’s happening in this real three chamber cave. A lot of things like this just fell into place, it was magical. And then the band also had a concert at the opening where they played the anthem and some of their hits. People really went berserk so it was a full circle. It was pretty awesome. They didn’t even expect people to want to listen to more than two songs and I was like “Uhh you’re playing more!” Because you don’t listen to this music all the time, the onslaught of sound waves is bound to affect you. Either you walk away or you just kind of go into this tribal feeling, the drums, the ancient way of creating musical experiences.
When you bring music into an installation, what happens is that you add time. You add a sense of time because the work is static and the music is time-based. It adds time and movements and that’s what I wanted. It’s like when you have a really good soundtrack in a movie and you don’t really have to listen to it to feel it, it just kind of enhances whatever is going on. It brings another layer. I think that the music that I asked HAM to create is an art material. There is the hair, the lights, and the music, and these are the art materials of the piece. The music isn’t just a background entertainment thing; it’s a breathing beast-like thing, it’s an ancient rhythm. When I was in there for a long time I started thinking “this must be similar to the original music of the world”, it’s like an ancient murmur of the sub-terra core of the earth.