Decompositions of the World at War

Decompositions of the World at War was a multi-media, multi-spatial installation I was involved in, with seven other students. The installation explored concepts of entropy, fetishism and warfare, and was held in the music studios of Alison House on the 7th or April. The installation and processes involved are detailed in the documentary below.


One specific role I had in the project was providing a sound for the spaces between the spaces of the installation, for the hallway the visitors would emerge into between each room. I  decided to explore the elasticity of time, and so I took a piece of audio from journalistic footage filmed in the battle for Aleppo, which included gunfire and explosions. Using the Paulstretch utility I stretched 5 minutes of this conflict audio out to last one hour in duration. The result was remarkable. What had been a chaotic, tense, and visceral recording, became this sonorous, droning, textured piece, at times sounding like bells resonating, or voices chanting.

I then set up two speakers playing from the same source, one at either end of the hallway in our installation, and played this hour long audio on continuous loop. The idea was that this soundscape would be a ‘carrier signal’ which the groups constantly re-set to. Rather than coming out of one of the rooms into silence, they were re-immersed into the continuous drone, forming the subliminal backdrop of the whole experience.

At it’s core this ‘carrier signal’ was intended to explore the concept of the elasticity of time. The idea that a moment can be an almost an eternity in length, and within this stretched out moment experiences which alter people fundamentally and permanently can occur.

This aspect of the installation was completely un-sign posted to the audience, and while it would have been impossible for them to identify the original source for the audio, and therefore to infer its meaning, I felt this was necessary in order to not force understanding upon the audience. And perhaps in this way the soundscape they kept returning to in the hall could work on their subconscious more effectively, unsettling them with it’s persistent alien-ness.