tracks 2, 4,6 are identical with 8, 10, 12
…to listen to all compositions just click on titles
…I would suggest, to enjoy this work’s special character, to read its text while listening to the audio files
initial concept, spoken text, music, narration in Greek, images
singer / vocalist
the recorded spoken text in English was interpreted by
lyrics of the two songs
Hans Sahl’s poem «Stanzas». English translation: Michael Hamburger; Greek translation: Tina Stefanopoulou. Compilation from the «Gloria» hymn (in Spanish)
English translation of the spoken text
translation revised by
raw material that was scanned for the visual part (books, photos, magazines), by courtesy of
Thalia Mantopoulou – Panagiotopoulou
the International Science Fiction Conference (18-21 October 2001, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, «biotechnological and medical themes in science fiction», Chair of the Organising Committee: Domna Pastourmatzi, *protected email*).
the bookstore «The Unknown Kadath» contributed financially to this production. (Bookstore – Editions «The Unknown Kadath», D.Gounari & Em. Grevenon, Thessaloniki 54621, Greece, tel. greece / 0310-229060). This arrangement excluded any other type of payment.
audio CD production co-ordination and recording
audio CD graphic design
»the hot chair» (Eleni Nasta, Fotini Filoxenidou)
the audio CD was manufactured by
Hans Sahl, «STANZAS» English Translation by Michael Hamburger, COPYRIGHT 1999 ECM Records
Hans Sahl, «STROPHEN», aus «Das Exil im Exil. Memoiren eines Moralisten», ©1990
Luchterhand Literaturverlag, GMBH, Frankfurt am Main
Alle rechte vorbehalten: Luchterhand Literaturverlag GMBH Munchen
… a message that could reach to stir emotions … … dear cousin that so far away he has chosen to reside …
a science fiction cantata for narrator, mezzo-soprano, electronic instruments, and images
(CD, 2000 / International Science Fiction Conference and “The Unknown Kadath”)
This work started basically as the composer’s 5th discography. It is his last work, after which he turned professionally fully to Gestalt therapy. In some way, “Ars Moriendi” (the art of dying), symbolizes a death for the composer’s course: the end of a very long past period, and the beginning of a new one, integrating the metabolized traces of what is ending.
It is inspired from a poem by Hans Sahl (from “Stanzas”) and it is probably the most original of Theodorou’s works, combining in a unique way different forms of artistic expression. Finally, it became a kind of coral “concept” which may be expressed under different autonomous or combined forms: as sound, slides/images, or even a multimedia project.
This work, as an audio CD, was composed for the International Science Fiction Conference and under this format was premiered at the opening of the Conference, in the auditorium of the Old School of Philosophy, of the Aristotle University (Thessaloniki, Greece). The audio CDs were NOT on general sale. They are not distributed for financial profit, and may be asked for only privately from the composer.
The main “Ars Moriendi” idea is basically an integration of a sound part and a visual one.
Furthermore, it also appeared as a multimedia project version, in a proposal to the Thessaloniki Municipality. Yet, even if accepted, it was finally never realized.
You may see this visual material here: Ars Moriendi Gallery.
To see some personal notes on the broader process that led to the “stylistic” aspects of these images, you may visit the “Deja Vu” section from the “music-art” menu.
consists of: a STORY, unfolding along with MUSIC and some autonomous vocal pieces.
This sound part of the work, on the initiative of the participants and contributors, was recorded and appeared in a CD format (limited number of copies).
(a1) The STORY is based on original ideas regarding the plot and the narrative “style”. It has been recorded in two freestanding versions (Greek and English), both included in the CD format.
(a2) The MUSIC is composed using as building material a very big variety of sounds and musical motifs.
These sounds are not merely accompaniment but constitute an integrated sound environment. In other words, they literally “direct” in a unique way the whole atmosphere of Ars Moriendi.
They form thematic units according to the story’s concepts and ideas, following the “semantics” of the various events, situations and feelings.
was created in the computer from about 350 scanned paintings and photos. (“Collage” could not be the word for the technique used since very thorough digital editing and “visual composition” were the main aspects of this technique).
The same visual material appears within the forms of SLIDES and/or IMAGES.
(b1) The SLIDES are projected while the sound part is heard. They are not a visual legend “describing” the spoken text as pictures. They simply follow the story as just a kind of some scattered “poetic” visual notes.
(b2) The IMAGES may be exhibited independently from the rest of the presentation. While they were being generated, they gradually acquired also a “stand alone” conceptual content, independently from the broader Ars Moriendi original idea. Τhe exhibition would be subtitled: “…the dream of a city that no longer remembers breathing…”.
You must be astonished by the obsolete manner of communication I’ve chosen, a recorded message. Please, I do you beg to forgive me for what must certainly be the non-correct way I’m using this old mode of communication, language. Very slow and in the extreme confusing with so many words, meanings so many, the question of pronunciation, and above all, that bother of fitting neatly the right words together in the right place….
Anyhow. Although 654 years have passed, I think, since our schooldays, I recall you a good student of history, you enjoyed struggling with difficult sound messages and certainly you’ll apprehend the mistakes I ‘m making.
Fortunately the machine works well – ah, look what the label says, ‘speech si-mu-la-tor’, what sort of word is that! I’ve rented it from the museum to make sound of these linguistic thoughts of mine, otherwise, ha-ha, who knoweth how this speech of mine would sound, ha-ha, who knoweth, a tool not used languishes, ha-ha!
Ah, let me not forget to demand forgiveness for the sound interference at the back of my words, it’s apparently ‘thought noise’, something like tumult from my brain and beyond thoughts distant and memories which burrow into the machine.
My news? It is no useful telling you, for we communicate daily by telepathy direct and already thou knowest, whereas who knoweth to say when this sound message you’ll receive, since so far away you’ve chosen to reside.
Well, the reason why I thus communicate with you is that I am, of late, suffering from something like acute ‘past-itis’ (did not illnesses end in ‘-itis’ in the olden days? And, ha-ha, was it not then that people were always ill?).
To be sure, ha-ha, I’m joking, I have no illness, it’s just that, well, a foolish attraction and curiosity about how things were ?then. And this attraction or curiosity seems to be nibbling my imagination and confusing it with history, which any way I don’t know (you know how much I hated at school history, and you, who so excelled in multi-psychology, will surely apprehend already what’s happening to me).
But, I get emotional . . . Yes, cousin, I get emotional. Plenty. And often I drop a few tears. Which caress my cheeks, and I thought I would tell you in a sound message, not by telepathy, just in case with some of this emotion I might reach you, so far away that you’ve chosen to reside. (I’ve also bought a good memory translator which I shall employ as good tool to transfigure memory into sounds, ha – ha, imagine what on the market there is today!)
Well, the cause of this ‘past-itis’ is Ars Moriendi. Thou knowest, the encampment for mutants that used to be near the edge of town. I say, well, the town’s Council to dislodge it decided for some reasons and to transfer the inmates who knoweth where. The Council said it wouldn’t harm them, just transfer them. Just imagine being a mutant!
How tragic all your parts must feel, being but a tiny offshoot of evolution, a subrogate being, a minor minor footnote of biotechnology and medical science! Ha-ha, this wit is not of me, my brain plucked it somewhere, I think it was an article of classical beauty about those mutants few.
But you see, you see. They dissolved Ars Moriendi. And then, you see, the multi-facets strike meant they leave there the facilities for a long time. And the climate, well, you know, strong climate made the havoc, the facilities became ruins swift. Forsooth, it made the town’s outskirts have ruinous and deserted labyrinth of worn by climate buildings.
Well, there. In that place. Word got around that walk in a pitch-black night is nice, full of surprises and things like visions, and magical apparitions because of the mutants, apparently, those who escaped, not transfered away.
That’s what I heard, and one evening I was tempted and went as well to Ars Moriendi. Hear what happened.
Hey, you can’t imagine what goes on. Of course, imagine not sensational things. I go into the ruins, a little time passes, exactly then, sweetness and enchantment fill me, from my low to my upper spaces. For days afterwards I am in tranquillity and on a level flying, as I recall tiny moments from that little walk. And that’s when I weep. Not the entire me, not with every part of mine, but just enough to convulse myself in a very fundamental way.
For instance. You move through the desolate ruins which place flying dust on all your lips, but suddenly all your mouths become refreshed and all your noses fill with strange intoxifying fragrance. Then dust returns to all your mouths and noses. And then the hum, the slithering from over there. Sometimes hasty. Other times sluggish. Very. A thud from over there. Someone’s fallen. Who? You go over. None. You hear a sound. A whistle. And then a sound like voice. From over there. Again. Not full in speech, but rolling and with strange frequencies, at strange intervals (as you were excellently good at mathematics you’ll surely already understand what I mean by that).
Again, for instance. This time, I heard something like that. It rootled me to the ground, my breathing heavy. Then I ran hither. Thither. Over there. To find what was making that voice – sound. Was it a being? Did the sound exist? Imagined I the sound? I know not.
What I did was, I sat down. I placed my hands upon this head of mine. Tried to breathe deeply, be calm. Surely, I became sound. For the voice I was hearing was not external but within. Then I fell asleep. The best of my best of my sleeps.
Hold on while I get the memory translator, the good model, to record something like that memory for thee, perhaps you’ll get emotional as well and I can move you, reach you, even so far away you’ve chosen to reside. This sound, then. It went something like this.
Like it? Ah, cousin! If you had been there, only! For memory makes corruptions of the fact, I remember that from school.
Oh, let me not forget. I hope you not mind the many dots and stops I ‘ve just chosen to employ. In one of my visits to the museum, scanning with my brain a souvenir, I realised that that’s what they used to do in the old days, for suspence. For anticipation. In narratives. Supposedly. (Ha-ha, I learnt that well, don’t I?)
Anyway, I’ve infected me with something. A longing. For that sweetness and delight, to fill me from my low to my upper spaces. Ah, cousin. I found Ars Moriendi. I’m under its spell. I want to tell to you something else, which let me not forget.
There are many of us who go to Ars Moriendi. But we prefer to avoid each other. Especially when we tire of wandering through the labyrinthine ruins and take our ease where we please.
And when we’re meeting we make no greeting, nor muse together nor link together, nor share together what we each seem to feel. (Ha-ha, you see how well I use the linguistic device to make similar endings in sentences I say… like when I realised, while scanning with my brain another souvenir, that they did so when they were employing that code called ‘poetry’, I think).
Now let me tell you about a differing experience at Ars Moriendi. A short while ago, in a wonderful deeply black and ebony nighttime, I arrived there. All was tranquil. At a moment was that rolling sound heard. It nailed me to the spot. But this time standing, not seating, not holding this head of mine in my hands. Nor falling asleep. Just standing, gazing into the black sky. I felt I was growing taller. In truthful truth. My gaze touched the sky, I became sky, and the entire sky thus entered my inner spaces. I too became vast.
Perhaps for a moment even reached you, there, where so far away you’ve chosen to reside. At some point, I left, serene and myself a sky. Next day I’ m back at the museum. Using that good memory translator I found out that what I’d heard was part of a very very old address to some great being. “God” was the term or something like that.
Pay your attention, please. The sound. It went something like this.
Gloria a Dios en las alturas, Senor
yen la tierra gloria a Dios
paz a los hombres que ama el Senor
por tu inmensa gloria Senor
Dios Rey celestial
ten piedad de nosotros
Dios Padre todo poderoso
ten piedad de nosotros
attiende nuestras suplicas
en las alturas gloria a Dios yen la tierra
paz a los hombres que ama el Senor. Amen
Like it? Ah, cousin! If you had been there, only!
But alas, cousin, alas. I am ready to construct a package with the sound message in a round object to send to you there there where so far away you’ve chosen to reside, in the hopes you might get emotional. The rental period’s finished for the machine from the museum which make sound of thoughts. Suddenly, thinking the news, I realise the strike is over. They are going to clear away the ruinous ruins in the next few days . . .
But what about me? And my sickness of times past? I can’t discover reason to send this message with such nice information about my own personal moments when I shan’t have them any more. Ars Moriendi is finished. I weep.
And yet, cousin. You’ll receive this sound message, after all. Ars Moriendi is finished. But I weeping, went to visit there. Just think what happened. I saw a mutant! I mean one of those left behind. Let me tell you how.
I take a turn around a corner and try in sorrow to fit the labyrinthine remains into my memory. I stumble upon him. Sitted with his back leaning against a post, he seems asleep. Then I realise. He has passed away. Dead. He looks old, very old, just as my thoughts suggest through scanning some souvenirs from the mutants’ museum. Seems he’s thinking something happy. Smiling a little.
I look at him with all my eyes. A long time after, later, I touch him fearfully with most of my hands. With fear I guide my thought into his brain. It’s warm. He must just have died. In a remote corner of his brain I discover a rolling voice – sound, barely discernible. He must have thought of it in his dying moment. I place it in my brain.
The words are magic pure. I understand my sickness. Shall I tell you? You like me to?
Ha-ha, we’re not conversing with thoughts that move, ha-ha, before you tell me whether you like me to, I already would have told you what I understood. Ha-ha!
You see, cousin, it all begins because we live for thousands of years and thus we tend to forget about death. I do. And when all of the sudden I find myself at Ars Moriendi surrounded by something dying, well, into place things fall. Inside me awakes this feeling while seeing death. It is like meeting an old friend who I’ve forgotten his existence. And I weep.
That forgotten knowledge is tranquillity, you see, an opening of my inner spaces. Now I need not Ars Moriendi. That night I took it with me. A tight, little, warm ball which I guard well and know there is no danger losing it. I have known Ars Moriendi, and I’ll learn to make it a good tool for living, yes, I intend to, and desire that you should do the same.
Look, cousin, listen, the day after, when the strike was over and they cleared away the ruins and sprouted a nice park, nothing was thought on the news about the old fellow. The affair’s over, they harmed not the mutants, just transferred them, who knoweth to say where.
Certainly to a place where you can live with only one head, two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two arms, two legs, and, most peculiar of all, without antennae. Only with one trunk and single sex organ. Just think how difficult you survive like that without camp facilities. Anyhow, nobody asked ’cause nobody really cares.
You with your so many degrees, perhaps you know, but if not, please, can you be able to find out and visit them, it will do you good, grand good, we can talk about all this with thought that moves, if you like.
Ha-ha, I know you, cousin, ha-ha! Now you want to know what it was that my thought touched in that remote corner of his brain. You want those rolling, not speechful, words to reach you too, so far away that you’ve chosen to reside. All right. No secrets between us. I’ll switch on the machine to turn my memory into sound.
Again, pay your attention. The sound. It went something like this.
Quite slowly I am walking from the world
into a landscape further off than far,
and what I was and am and shall remain
as patient, as unhurried walks with me
into a country never trodden yet.
Quite slowly I am walking out of time
into a future further than any star,
and what I was and am and ever shall be
as patient, as unhurried walks with me
as though I’d never been or hardly been.
What follows are two notes regarding the «Ars Moriendi» visual part exhibition, that accompanied the work’s presentation at the 4 day workshop of Gestalt therapy, May (23 – 26) 2002.
You may see this visual material by following the independent «Ars Moriendi» link from the «music-art» menu.
To see some personal notes on the broader process that led to the «stylistic» aspects of these images, you may visit the «Deja Vu» section from the «music-art» menu.
This exhibition is subtitled «…the dream of a city that no longer remembers breathing…» since the idea of the city and the urban environment are its main themes.
This visual material is of a very «dense» structure, built on purpose with references to the GESTALT approach in psychology and psychotherapy.
For example, the main idea that everything in awareness becomes «figural» emerging for a while from a «background», is prevalent in the structuring of the visual material (and also, often in the layering of the sounds used in the audio part).
This way of composing these images aims to produce for the viewer a state of a non – stop «mobility» and «mutability» in what is being perceived. The viewer can continuously discover and re-discover new patterns, new themes, new visual short stories in each image.
He/she may look at it focusing where and how he/she wishes, under different scales, and on various sections of any size of the total image surface.
This visual material wishes to invite the viewer to «read» it in his/her own personal ways. Each image is challenging him/her to use his/hers creative imagination, in order to combine creatively what is perceived, to make one’s own stories, one’s own «connections», to play freely with the forms, the symbols, the titles, the moods, the feelings.
I had at first thought to write just a brief and sincere note thanking the people who organized this meeting and gave me the opportunity to present my work.
Starting the note I realized that it was getting oriented elsewhere (like when we are writing a seminar diary and we find out that we are writing different things than the ones we intended to…).
I felt the need to share something more with all of you, and so, here I am starting again the note, even if it gets a little longer than I thought.
I met with the Hans Sahl’s poem (see at the end of the story’s text) just by chance about a year ago. Under numerous coincidences I builded rather quickly ARS MORIENDI combining sound, spoken text and images.
It is probably the more original of my works, with plenty of thematic (and structuring) references to the Gestalt approach ideas.
During all that period I felt that, as I was working, many different parts of myself were moving to find new connections between them. I had no idea about the nature of these parts of myself or about how and where to they were moving.
I was just in a way «listening» to their movement’s «echo», going on with ARS MORIENDI. It was as if by working I was providing them with the space and the «soldering» material they needed to articulate between them. I experienced as magic the workout of this work’s practical aspects. It was as if this workout was advancing by itself. All the process was taking place «somewhere else», very far away.
My own role? Nothing more than to permit mu process flow.
It might be that any form of creativity has to do with self – Knowledge. But that period meant for me something more.
Through my involvement with the Gestalt therapy as a trainee, it was the time that large periods of my life were closing while other ones were opening, in a slow and underground procedure, beyond the areas of thought and consciousness.
For me, then, my «next» life – patterns were very slowly starting getting shape, along with their new for me vital energy.
It was new awareness, new ability for movement and communication, as my terror for death was coming closer to my love for life. Now I know that, in ARS MORIENDI, it was reflected that inner process.
This work, the «art» of dying as a «tool» for life, became something like a «container». Something like a catalyst for my personal development, framing and at the same time reflecting it.
This is why presenting my work in this special meeting means more than just one more artistic participation. «Presenting» it especially to you who are working in the Gestalt concepts, is sharing with you my own personal course, my parts, my – «Self» of that recent time.
And finally, the fact that it is the Gestalt Foundation that offers to me this presentation opportunity, is very important (and «therapeutic») for me: here, all the processes running along with the «Ars Moriendi» creation, are integrated in one and whole «matrix», of great importance for my growth and personal development.
So, my thank – you is very big, springing deeply from my heart. I am addressing it to the people who organized this meeting, to all of you attending it, to Antonia Konstadinidou
Thank you. Petros Theodorou, May 2002
This work of yours, Ars Moriendi (the “Art of Dying”), is definitely sui generis. It is a framework within which distinct, numerous original means of expression co-exist.
Various issues are raised through its content and the style of this …reading-come listening-come show (whichever version we choose) changes from unit to unit. How did you combine such apparently heterogeneous elements?
I use my imagination quite frequently to intertwine things that preoccupy me during a period of time. And if we consider the factor of luck… Let us say that during that specific period I happened to have read an amazing poem by Hans Sahl (used at the end of this work) and was thinking about setting it to music.
My eye had also caught the words Ars Moriendi in an article and I had liked very much their sound; I wondered what kind of work they would make a fitting title for. Around that a concurrent issue on my mind was the matter of “limits” (there is no greater limit than death now, is there?), while, we had already started some wonderful co-operation with singer Lilian Tsatsaroni, and I was looking for ways of presenting some material together, live, combining her astonishing voice and technique with a discreet background of electronic sounds and moods. One day, by sheer coincidence, we met with Mrs. Pastourmatzi.
She happened to be organising the International Conference on science fiction in Thessaloniki, and her proposal to me to think of something for the opening ceremony provided the framework that “pulled through” all the above into one piece of work, Ars Moriendi.
What is the world our hero lives in like?
Using the length of a short story, I only included the basic features I considered necessary to underpin the basis of my idea. My objective was to excite the readers’ imagination rather than describe something, while exploiting the trick of the special use of language.
For example the “strong climate” might mean anything: acid rain, wind, storms, etc. The same goes with the multitude of arms, noses, everyday news transmitted through thought, machinery that turns sound into memory, the black sky, all these elements can be combined in the manner each one of us would like to combine them in by using their imagination.
Let us not forget the important role of sound and image in the “direction” of this work and its immediacy.
In other words?
I tried to put this work together as a model of combination of various expressive means; this is something I am often involved in at POLYTECHNON and other workshops.
Let us take sound. It is by no means a simple accompaniment, a naive “background”. Of course it creates atmospheres, but, what it mainly does is to form an independent narrative level. For example, sounds from cartoon films show how our hero experiences laughter, joy, anger, desire, thus enriching ordinary means of expressing such feelings through the words of the text.
These sounds reflect what is supposedly happening in the soul and memory of this creature and that is why they appear weird and incomprehensible to us. Words, on the other hand, although comprehensible, lack any craft or syntax.
You see, they are only the translation of the inner world of this creature into a “sound message” through the machinery available in its time and age. This is an age when speech is not used any more and thoughts, feelings, and news circulate by telepathy.
Our hero is, after all, a centenarian whose form and properties we do not have. Its feelings, though rich for itself, when expressed through our codes appear crude, rather funny and, in essence, childish.Therefore, sound reflects all these levels: dramatic at times, funny at other times or even running like a simple commentary.
The images used for the live presentation are not descriptive at all, either. They are a means to enhance the atmosphere and the sense of the whole work in an underground continuum, not apparently related to the story.
Of course, regardless of the landscape one forms concerning Ars Moriendi, I have chosen certain constants that remain invariable for human soul, at least the way we know it to date. Let us say that these are the need for communication, the immediacy of feelings, the catalytic action of excitement, the power of art as a living experience.
External morphological features of mutation such as antennae, heads, etc, are they not too old-fashioned for science fiction?
Definitely. However, here they only make up the set, the framework within which the plot unfolds. While these creatures could well be just shadows or mere energy fields without affecting the main idea, I intentionally created such old fashioned echoes.
You see, what I wanted above all was a “poetic” atmosphere, and that is why in the specific work I need some exaggeration and contrast (a certain reference to cartoon strips or thrillers).
This contrast is inherent in both sound and image, which do not simply describe but direct the listener’s experience.
There are electronic, “harsh” and cold sounds combined with melodious themes using Lilian’s beautiful classical voice. There are images of destroyed cities combined with monuments and lovely landscapes.
What could be the “message” of Ars Moriendi? Is it an optimistic or a pessimistic work, as one might deduce from the title?
I never thought of it that way, as a “message”. I never think of any work, this one or any other by me or by other artists, as a “bipolar” construction.
I believe that in every work of art (and here I do not refer to an inanimate fabrication for the purpose of consumption) there is a core sense, which goes far beyond what “it means” or what “it wants to communicate”. This core is perceived by each one of us in our own way that goes beyond the cognitive level.
If we now discuss some of my views, which definitely reflect on everything I do since my works are sealed by my personality, then, yes, I believe that death awareness is a prerequisite condition for someone to live well.
Has it not happened to you, when a person close to you passes away, that you decide that as of the day after you will change your way of life, you will not waste your time on trivialities, etc?
We all do it and a few months later we all plunge back into a senseless waste of life, of precious moments, of the present, in the name of consumptive illusions and useless aspirations. As if one should keep missing out on the present in order to enjoy a beautiful retirement period. Of course the same trap is there, whether our life lasts for a week or for ten thousand years. It is only a matter of scale.
This is exactly what our hero becomes aware of among the ruins of Ars Moriendi. It (as this creature is neither “he” nor “she”) meets a recently dead human and out of the story’s plot it talks about two of its experiences.
One is inner, sensing itself “inwards”. The other is related to the feeling that it senses itself “outwards”, expanding, becoming endless, vast as the sky. Within such a condition, like the “a-ha” in psychotherapy, it loses its limits in order to remember that they do exist.
It decides to adopt this knowledge of death, this aspect of the “art of dying”, as a “tool” for a “good” life. I would add that this is THE “real” life, the one characterized by such a different sense of optimism.
As I have read somewhere, the best death is a death that concludes a full life, without the torturing feeling of something “unfulfilled”.
The proposal for this project was accepted to be realized by the City Hall of Thessaloniki on 2001, but … it was never actually realized…
In hypothetical presentation conditions with all the production matters financially covered, ARS MORIENDI can acquire the form of a “sound and image performance in a virtual environment”, presented together with the exhibition of the visual material. In a few words, the event’s main presentation core is evolving something like that:
… In an old deserted depot takes place the exhibition with the images enlarged to posters, scattered around, under appropriate lighting.
… In a next, similar depot, the slides are projected to the walls by at least 12 projectors, thus creating a virtual environment.
… There are no seats, the audience can walk around in this second depot while the sound part is heard.
… Between them there are dancers moving with slow motion.
… After the performance’s end, the people receive at the exit each one a cart – postal with a subject of the visual material, as an urge to write a few words to a beloved person of their own, to somebody they miss (like the main person of the story who decided to send to his cousin a “verbal” recorded letter). More specifically:
This is a multi – media event involving more than one artistic fields. It unfolds on many levels. The story links the event with literature. The visual material links it with fine arts. With music the fact that all the event’s sound part is an autonomous musical composition (under this format it has already appeared as an independent audio CD).
The event’s development under a stage action aspect links it with theatre (even in the sound part there is a definite reference to “theatre – for – radio”). Finally, the event develops in a manner reminding a journey-tour within a house – fair ground. The event has an experiential effect on audience – “viewers”, beyond the usual codes of perception of a show.
The conventional “safe” position of an audience, who usually sit and watch something happening in front of them in full control of their own participation, does not exist. Ars Moriendi is an event that overwhelms recipients and carries them along into an experiential and emotional aesthetic experience. It should be underlined that even the period of event’s advertising and promoting becomes part of its very content.
Following certain steps (see below), both the event and its “myth” are already functioning two months before the presentation, “playing” with the very sense of what is real and to what extent and what is fiction.
The centre of the event is the original story line itself, just as it exists on the CD with its music and vocals.
The audio part is heard in a big and empty space (preferably a disused industrial depot, plant or warehouse) with a small “reception” annex.
The visual material, transferred on 55 slides, is projected on the walls, the floor and the ceiling of the main space. The slides are projected one by one, simultaneously, through 15-20 projectors, thus creating a scenery, a visual environment.
The fine art aspect of the event is the exhibition of the visual material in images enlarged to 100×70 cm posters in a separate appropriate space. The 55 photographs also exist in postcard format.
The total duration of this experiential event’s presentation is 45 min (12 min in the reception area, and 33 in the actual presentation space). The exhibition can be visited at will, at any time.
A fundamental aspect of the whole original idea is that the event and its “myth” have already started functioning through the advertising and promotion of the presentations:
..Around two months before the presentation, many leaflets are distributed in the city where the event will take place. The leaflets inform about the residents’ desire to remove Ars Moriendi camp from the city (of course there is no such camp, the leaflets are vague and unclear; it is NOT mentioned what exactly is going on nor has there ever really been a protest about such a cause).
..At two more periods during these two months more leaflets are distributed to the public. Texts are now more heated, supposedly expressing the initiative of a (non-existent) “citizens committee”.
…Fictional press releases are sent to the media and as much fuss as possible is created.
..There is a web page supposedly hosting announcements by the citizens’ committee concerning the removal of the camp.
..Communication sponsors (radio and television) contribute towards the creation of the myth by spots on the non-existent Ars Moriendi camp.
..The event’s presentations are announced as a chance to visit the ruins of the imaginary camp (which has supposedly been transferred under the pressure exercised by citizens).
Let it be noted that the point of this event’s part is not to ‘trick” citizens – as it will very soon become obvious to the majority that the whole matter of the camp is fictional.
The aim is to promote the event and to extend the event’s main core into its own advertising campaign. Furthermore it is a “game” with the nature and the limits of the word “reality”, a line of thought that is in many ways charged in our days. This is how the rest of the event develops :
..There can be up to 4 event’s presentations in a day, due to the short duration and flexibility and ease of the event. It can be held as an exhibition or, for example, during a ten-day period that includes two weekends.
..There is a limited number of viewers who can participate at each event’s presentation (even if the size of the space available is very big). The small number of viewers in an enormous empty space is a factor that contributes to the experiential aspect of the event.
…The play between reality and fiction continues, as the audience is received by a “guide” (actress) into the small reception area. She announces that city authorities have decided to maintain the ruins of the camp, which they are about to visit.
..The audience move into the main space. There are no seats. They can move around freely over the whole area. Scattered around there are about 20 actors/actresses frozen at various spots making up a “living” scenery. (The large number of actors and the absence of seats are also factors contributing to the experiential aspect of the event).
…Lights dim. Fifteen-twenty projectors are turned on and the slides create a virtual space surrounding viewers and having an intense effect on them. The whole work is heard, recorded, just like it exists on the CD, and slides change at specific moments.
..At times actors/actresses change places around the space using minimal simple movements. They do not interact with the audience but just offer a sense of a different inner aspect and time dimension. At the end of the event viewers leave and take with them a postcard – photograph; they are encouraged to send a message to a person they love (communication is a fundamental motif of the event and the plot of the story).