"MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY... BITTER COLD... CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL..."
- Sir Earnest Shackleton
Back in 1914, filmmaker Frank Hurley was on board the Endurance and captured the astonishing true story of the ship's ill-fated 1914 attempt to cross the Antartic. BJ Nilsen presents a new film score using field recordings from the UK, Sweden, Norway and Iceland and excerpts from Shackleton's diary.
Preview Opening and Live Performance: Gymnasium Gallery: Saturday 18th: 2pm-3.30pm
In August,1914 Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty- seven set sail for the Antarctic in an attempt to cross the continent. Disaster struck when their ship trapped fast in the pack ice. The ship was crushed, leaving the crew stranded on an ice floe. In this stunning documentary, photographer and filmmaker Frank Hurley captures the astonishing true story of the ill-fated two year expedition aboard the ship, Endurance.
Taking its name from Shackleton’s family motto, ‘by endurance, we conquer’, the ensnared ship lasted through the worst months of the arctic winter before it sank and its passengers were forced to take up camp on the frozen sea ice.
The men, accompanied by 69 sled dogs, had passed ten months keeping spirits high with regular manual labour, soccer matches, theatrical evenings, and even weekly gramophone concerts, aware that other crews had gone mad, trapped for so long.
Six of the men kept diaries throughout, one of them recording the sound of the ship’s timbers groaning and cracking, “like heavy fireworks and blasting of guns.” Frank Hurley himself wrote:
“The ship groans and quivers. Windows splinter, while the deck timbers gape and twist.”
Once shipwrecked, the crew battled to cross the perilous Antarctic ice towards the relative safety of land. Eventually Shackleton and a crew of five sailed a 20-foot lifeboat 800 miles to South Georgia to mount a rescue mission. Shackleton pledged that no man would perish.
BJNilsen presents a new 5.1 surround sound, electro-acoustic score to Hurley’s film, based on field recordings from the UK, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. The work focuses on the physical demands of the journey as its core inspiration. Readings from Shackleton’s diary give insight into the mental journey he undertook. Together with guitar and electronics, Nilsen’s field recordings and Shackleton’s memoirs create a powerful and moving film soundtrack that reflects the wilderness, the harshness of the elements, and brings the alien landscape alive around us.
BJNilsen (b. 1975, Sweden) is a sound and recording artist, primarily focused on the sound of nature and its effect on humans, field recordings and the perception of time and space as experienced through sound, often electronically treated.
“I work with my own field recordings and concrete sound as basis for my compositions. The theme is often nature and the environment around us. These recordings are brought into the studio for further exploration. Sometimes I’m very true to the nature of the sound and other times the result can become very abstract and challenging, almost otherworldly. However, my goal is not to lose musicality of rhythm within these pieces.”
Nilsen has worked for documentary film, television and sound design. He has collaborated with, among others, Chris Watson, Christian Fennesz, Stilluppsteypa, Hidlur Gudnadottir, Z’ev, Finnbogi Pétursson, Ingólfur Arnarsson, Semiconductor, Brandon La Belle, Philip Jeck and Jon Wozencroft.
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