The Flute of Sub (2007)
The Flute of Sub, PVC pipe, wood, velvet, magnet
Flute of Sub is a 10 minute performance comprised of a reading and
musical recital. An underground tunnel with an unknown use and built
between two and three thousand years ago is approached as a material
start point to address the production of alternate narratives and their
sculptural equivalent. The story describes the area where the tunnel is
located in northern Scotland while offering an opinion on what may have
transpired within the underground form. Measurements taken from within
the tunnel were used to produce a flute that in-turn is used to
musically narrate the landscape it inhabits. The flute’s note-holes
correspond to a series of minor entrances that have been burrowed into
the underground form by rabbits. The shape and sound of this instrument
is particular to the environment it records, an object to talk about an
object. This relationship to abstraction is familiar within the region
as Psych-Folk, a musical genre driven by mysticism and pagan lore that
began in the 1960’s as a response to the landscape. The Flute of Sub
enacts this history while offering a story that accounts for the
narrative addition an individual can bring to a subject. For the
piece’s initial exhibition the story and flute recital were performed
six times over the course of an evening with several guest narrators
lending an aesthetic difference to the written story. The individual
performances were recorded and combined into a 64 minute video that
presents the indexical start point for this responsive fiction.
Since then an edit of the video has been produced that intertwines the live performance with the initial documentary footage.
The Flute of Sub text
The Flute of Sub by Zin Taylor
thin path through a field smelling of earth and animal leads to a tight
circle of trees. Within this dark ring sits a dwelling that has existed
here for the last two and a half thousand years. An underground form
built from rock.
forested island is guarded by a low stonewall, then made complicated by
a loose barbwire fence. Upon entering the circle the wind muffles, like
someone turned the volume down on nature. The trees protectively extend
several stories into the sky, filtering the light, and cooling the air.
populate this isolated forest. Because of the remote location the hares
have burrowed an elaborate warren. A maze of tunnel that is both
entrance and exit to an underground community. The size of hole
allowing one kind of being to enter while keeping another kind out. Its
as if the form has taught the hares to live underneath the ground, as
they are not normally suited to this behavior.
the Islands heart is the Souterrain Circle. Made of rock and descending
into the earth it has existed here longer than two millennia.
word Souterrain translates from French as “earth house”. The soil that
lays overtop is home for several types of fauna and flora, one of these
being Stinging Nettle. A plant that when touched infects an invisible
oil that burns and itches the skin. A soup can be carefully prepared
from the stalks.
a distance of sixteen meters the exit is discovered. Concealed by a
wall of bushes and plants a drop of two meters greets you. The basin is
littered with gun shells.
circle part of the name is unclear. It could be describing the curving
cylindrical shape the form travels underneath the ground, or, referring
to a circle of people who gather in ceremony. The Souterrain Circle as
a title, not a name.
west end of the circle is the more welcoming of the two portals.
Crawling in through the mouth I was able to stand fully upright within
meters of this entrance. The walls and ceiling appear to be equal
height and width, something around two meters each. The ground is
uneven and littered with sticks, hair, dirt, and mummified creatures.
The air is damp and cold and very silent, and the light is the color of
ceiling looks impossible. Flattened slabs of rock over two meters in
width make up the roof. Carefully interlocking, they have remained this
way for nearly twenty-five centuries. Sparse streams of light spot the
darkness. Their source is the holes the hares have dug into the form.
Minor tributaries of a larger artery buried beneath the ground.
atmosphere below the ground is distinctly different from the atmosphere
above. And I would suggest that the conversations occurring while in
the Circle are different from what was discussed while out. The walls,
ceiling, floor, and length of the form have recorded the conversations
that have occurred here before. These details have been translated into
measurements and an object has been made.
is the flute. The shape and sound of this flute is something like a
living organism. This is the first entrance, and this, is the second.
The fingering holes are determined by the minor entrances the hares
have burrowed in to and out of the form. These are its notes. By
association this flute’s voice is the voice of the tunnel. An object to
talk about an object, and I’m going to use it to tell a story. Playing
this flute is to sing The Song of Sub.
Installation images from Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie
Installation images from The Urusla Blickle Stiftung
main room of the Stiftung has a wall length mirror leftover from its
days as a dance studio. A poster decribing the origins of the piece was
made where the message is revealed in the mirror reflection. An
introduction to the parallel narrative developed by The Flute of Sub
for the site in Scotland.