Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Vineta is the "Atlantis" of the Baltic Sea: a legendary sunken city. The Bavarian Radio Choir dedicated one of its acclaimed theme concerts to Vineta. The task now was to develop an innovative television format for this.
The decisive point was to completely exclude the initially obvious association of "water". Vineta became for us a cipher for sunken societies, a sociological phenomenon, and not a maritime one. Destruction occurred through natural disasters and war, but also through political and economic decisions.
Music is not suitable for focusing on the sea. We will work on the important issues of climate change or marine pollution in another project.
We designed the imagery for a 270° projection in the studio. This was in line with our experience in designing complete rooms. We immersed the choir in virtual landscapes that constantly changed to music.
At the same time, this meant that we had to account for special challenges regarding format and type of images, camera work and direction. Much of what you dream at your desk develops its own dynamic when combining music and space.
We quickly reduced the original plan to use a lot of moving images. The movements and transitions in the visual worlds became slower and smoother with each step so as not to distract from the music. At the same time, each picture detail was adapted to the respective music and context.
The choir sang playback for the first time in its history during the studio production.
The latest digital camera technology was used, and only in this way could strong contrasts for television be implemented in post-production.
We found our locations all over the world. In Angkor Wat, gigantic trees grow above temples. In Namibia, the desert recovers an entire place. In Pompeii, Vesuvius spilled life, and the Japanese ghost island of Hashima not far from Nagasaki was a chapter in itself.
In the middle of production planning, Vineta became a brutal reality: the Fukushima disaster destroyed large stretches of Japan's coastline. The whole project was suddenly in the balance. What to do? Exactly half a year after the disaster we travelled with Japanese friends to the tsunami area and took part in the clean-up work. The disturbingly beautiful pictures for Jaako Mäntyjärvi's equally disturbingly beautiful Requiem on the sinking of the ferry Estonia.
A magical piece consists only of the buzzing of the singers, their voices mixing and intertwining. This is the connection to the mighty tree roots, which slid around the temple remains in Angkor Wat like octopus arms. The contrast between the living wood and the hewn stone created a strange unity with a new and unintentional reality. The voices radiate like the distant echo of a lost civilization in the treetops.
Brahms tells the tale of Vineta. His songs are the crystallization point for the remaining pieces. In the text, the ghostly, but also the criticism, of an excessive and arrogant society shines through and the ruins of Pompeii become a projection surface. The famous dead cast with plaster appear as a reminiscence of the baroque "Memento mori": Don't Forget Death.
Hardly anyone can escape the oppressive magic of this piece. It begins with the monologue of the Latin news of Estonia's downfall in 1994, where 852 people were killed. Our greatest challenge was to find an artistic transformation in respect of the victims, without trivializing.
For this we had processed our direct impressions in the tsunami region of Japan. Over large areas was only gravel, where a half year before small towns stood. Volunteers from all over the country came by bus to clean up together. The work, often only symbolically, was also a border crossing. Without wanting it, one penetrated into the private sphere of life of the victims; a living room, the record collection, and children's toys.
The force of the water destroyed both individual fates and social structures. Houses can be rebuilt, but a city had to grow again first.
Like a warship, the island of Hashima lies in front of the bay. It was one of the most densely populated places in the world, and yet has been completely uninhabited since 1974. There is a moment in Esenvald's "Vineta" setting, when the music describes how the sky enchants itself. That's what he does in our visualization. The sky above the man-made island glows red: no kitsch, but reference to the 1945 atomic bomb dropping over the nearby town of Nagasaki.
Ariel is a figure from Shakespeare's "Storm" - a shimmering spirit of the air, as intangible as the fine desert sand in the air of Namibia. Germans once dug for diamonds in the former Kolmannskuppe, but the desert has long since flooded again. And it persistently smoothes out all the traces that visitors leave behind in an ocean of sand.
The legend of Vineta, condensed into the shortest possible narrative, connects the individual pieces. We designed and animated picture boards to avoid falling into the viewer's expectation of travel reports. What we show in Bis and Musik are art worlds, even if they drop anchor in real areas.
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