Song Cycle for Haruki Murakami

single-channel video

Matthew Dotson asked me to create the video supplement to the sound composition heard here. His initial request was to have only simple, elegant white on black text. That posed a significant challenge to the creative process, as my goal was to visually link the textual elements of Murakami's writings with the dynamics of Matthew's composition. To accomplish this, I visually imitated themes from each movement ("insect wings", "earth", "dust", and "lock") through animating their elements by properties of the sonic spectrum (brightness, noisiness, amplitude, and pitch).


The impetus of this work was four quotes out of Haruki Murakami’s novel “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.” The intention was to create a kind of pseudo-narrative out of just these four quotes; creating a new story out of fragments of the original story. But beyond this, I wanted each quote (or movement) to be markedly different, thus depending on the visual presence of the quotes to keep the work coherent. Sonically, Murakami’s work made it very evident to me that, in the words of his main character, it should be “something concrete” (a phrase he often used to try and make sense out of the baffling world that surrounded him). Thus, the foundation material was derived from several ambient recordings that took place both inside and outside of my apartment in Chicago. These recordings were used to symbolize the “inner” and “outer” worlds; the interactions and tensions between which served to be the conceptual focus of my piece as it likewise was with Murakami. Soloists (cello, drum set, flute, and clarinet respectfully) were added in order to comment on these sonic environments and lend a sense of humanity and drama to the work. - Matthew Dotson, 2007.


collaborators: Matthew Dotson (audio)