Forests #1, or: the wind that cuts through the fog

Morning Mist in the Mountains - Caspar David Friedrich, 1808, oil on canvas

From up on the hill I can see the lights
of town through the trees
and there is wind. There is only wind.

Sunrise - F.W. Murnau, 1927, 35mm

fog obliterates the morning


I was born free, and in order to live free I chose the solitude of the countryside. The trees of these mountains are my companions, the clear waters of these streams my mirrors; I communicate my thoughts and my beauty to the trees and to the waters. I am a distant fire and a far-off sword.

--words of Marcela the shepherdess, Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (trans. Edith Grossman, Vintage, 2003), p.99.

A Humble Life - Aleksandr Sokurov, 1997, video


Elegy of a Voyage - Aleksandr Sokurov, 2001, video

The Chasseur in the Forest - Caspar David Friedrich, 1814, oil on canvas

Oriental Elegy - Aleksandr Sokurov, 1996, video

breath becoming clouds / becoming rain / uprooting hillsides / dissolving bones
wind screaming by Mount Erie, among the cliffs / by the hillside, among the clouds that never lift, saying: 'I am the river.' 'I am the ocean of changing shape.' 'I bring bodies.' / 'In the void you heard my name and you are like me. /You are nothing but a place where dust is dancing'

--Phil Elverum (& Nick Krgovich) from "Through the Trees", "Lost Wisdom", "Stone's Ode" & "Wind Speaks", Wind's Poem, by Mount Eerie, 2009.

p.s. the wind in the trees

I began filming on November 3, 2008 in a wooded area adjacent to the Dusseldorf International Airport. There was no wind. It was absolutely still, not one leaf was moving. The high definition captured every tiny twig, while the 16 x 9 aspect ratio allowed for a broader field of vision (lessening the need for a wider angle lens) meaning less distortion. I found the frame and pushed the start button filling two SxS cards with one take – a 114 minute shot. During that time 40 planes landed. The frame remained absolutely still, no registration movement, no dancing grain – a bit like projected slides (if you can recall slide projectors). I wasn’t sure this stillness would be acceptable, but then a plane passed through the frame providing momentary movement. Ten seconds later a wind vortex produced by the passing plane sang through the frame and disturbed one loose branch hanging from a nearby tree. It wavered slightly, and then a bit later a roaring wind followed. The frame exploded with movement. All of the trees swayed raining down their leaves. Then the wind passed and the frame slowly returned to stillness. When the next plane landed it started all over again. Each plane brought varying amounts of movement depending on its size and distance from the camera. When I looked at the footage on my computer that night I realized I had recorded an action that would have been impossible to capture on film.

-- James Benning, “Knit & Purl”, Val Verde, August 2009, Cinema Scope 40, p. 39.


Ryland Walker Knight said...

It's so funny to me that I never think of people from other countries digging Phil's music. As if he's so weird in an American way -- a Pacific Northwest way -- that people from other places won't "get it" or some bullshit. Of course he's got smart, sensitive fans all over the globe. That _Live in japan_ record is great. Also, for the record, my favorite song of his is "Solar System" (II on _Mount Eerie_, as The Microphones) bc it's a perfect pop song _and_ it's a perfect Phil song full of "natural" stuff like flash floods and feedback.

So, yea, this is great, Matt. So happy you started this blog.

Matthew Flanagan said...

Ry - thanks. I'm growing into PE's soundscapes again after failing to get into The Glow pt. 2 (for some/whatever reason) a few years ago. (How long has it been...?). The low-key Lost Wisdom record stirred me last year (it's really gorgeous), and this Wind's Poem thing is tremendous in places. I'm not sure that the lyrics survive without the (immense) sound, but perhaps the images will save them. Re: Live in Japan - got some catching up to do!