I sat down with Úlfur Hansson (musician) and Arnljótur Sigurðsson (artist) in what seemed like the only lull of the day and when I say lull I mean that those guys where only being bothered by me and a handful of other people who would come through the door, ask a question and exit with the needed information to continue working. It’s the day before the exhibition and the last day of full and unadulterated work, no wonder it’s hectic.
This is the music and instrument creation workshop, am I right?
Yes, it’s called Expansion of the Oscillators.
That being both the name and direction of the workshop?
Úlfur: In brief this workshop is a festival and feast of sound, the idea is to open the ears and eyes of the participant to the soundscapes that surrounds them in day to day life and to the harmonics that are found in all spaces and nature.
Arnljótur: There has also been a discussion on sound from a conceptual and aesthetic perspective.
Úlfur: In the process of discussing these things, ideas have materialized that have then been realized in the creation of particular sound, tones and these oscillating instruments, which we have been building throughout the week.
So in order for me to understand you, this isn’t just a hands on create your own noise machine workshop, this is also probing look into how you interact with sound?
Úlfur: We are trying to turn on the metaphorical light bulb in their heads.
Arnljótur: People think of sound as something they hear, but not something they perceive. When in fact it is so much more. There is a universal sound in the multiverse that we have been trying to guide them towards.
Can you tell us more of this universal harmonic?
Úlfur: There are vibrations in everything, that in and of it self is a crazy enough concept to spark a religion.
At this point as we are interrupted again, this time they need to answer questions about their collaboration with the dance workshop in the exhibition. Everything seems to be in a state of flux, but very much in a good way. There are possibilities to be realized.
How many participants are in your group?
Úlfur: It has fluctuated through the week,with the volunteers coming in and taking part, but all in all the group is around thirteen people.
How have you structured the workshop?
Arnljótur: We had predetermined parts of the program, but a lot of it has been structured around what everyone wants to do.
Úlfur: We have then tried to help each individual on their own path, in no way telling them what to do, but to try and open up as many possibilities and directions as possible.
Arnljótur: They are immensely fertile and productive. What they have achieved in a week is just astonishing.
This wonderful house, is it empty between festivals?
Úlfur: Björt LungA and her friends from Denmark own this house. In the wintertime it’s an artist residence that you can rent to work and live in. In the summertime it’s used for workshops and the like.
Arnljótur: Funnily enough this is but one of many artists residences in Seyðisfjörður. There is a longstanding tradition of artists coming here to work, stretching back to Dieter Roth.
How did it transpire that you started working together and did you approach LungA with this idea?
Úlfur: I was asked if I was willing to come and run this seminar and of course I said yes, without really knowing what I wanted to do. For the longest time Arnljótur and me have intended to work together on something, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity and it just clicked and worked really well.
Arnljótur: Finally we are working together and we’re well chuffed.
Arnljótur: In the work beforehand and throughout the process of running the workshop we have taught ourselves quite a lot, we have broken everything apart analyzed it and in reassembling begun to get a deeper understand.
Úlfur: It’s insane how much you learn form teaching others.
Arnljótur: You can’t do this if you haven’t thought it out and applied reason to what you are doing. You’ll be caught out if what you’re saying is bullshit. In disassembling and analyzing you learn more. The worst part for me is not being able to be a participant. Given the time, we’ll undoubtedly take this project further.
Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís