“Territory” A visual sound poem

“Territory” a visual sound poem. Loosely based on the Edda poem “Skirnismaal”

A Capto Musicae production.

Idea/concept/musical composition/performer

Øystein Elle


Janne Hoem

Co-creative performer


Consultant / Norse literature expert

Erling Kittelsen


ImageThe visual sound poem “Territory” will take the form of a poetic, sonic, through composed work that will be read and experienced on several levels, as an abstract audiovisual composition and as a linguistic experiment. By working with a detachment from the immediate constraints of language we want to reach into a deeper level than the cognitive. There is a widespread philosophical thought that the language set limits for our consciousness. Thus, one can find traces of earlier generations of consciousness in the ancient texts. We work based on the hypothesis that this does not only apply to the for us immediately linguistic meaning, but can be extracted from the words sound, and between letters and words.

Likewise will a detachment from the traditional vocal expressions enable us to achieve a form of expression that is raw and direct in its sonic expression, and depart from traditional musical and vocal timbre conventions. We will be free to convey a wider sonic range. We intend to use only text from “Skirnismaal” both in Norse and Norwegian. Sometimes the sounds based on the language will be perceived as meaningful words in the traditional narrative sense, other times as abstracted sound / music. Using trans disciplinary artistic relationships I am working as a composer and singer on creating a new vocal aesthetics based on what we call the extended voice techniques. This provides opportunities to work with the voice as a performative instrument in itself, as a carrier of sonic and musical material that goes beyond the gender-specific and outside the conventions related to the concept of singing.

It also allows compositional possibilities that depart from the tradition of music in a cinematic work. Instead we work with extracting material in artistic encounters. We open up for whatever arises in the meeting between artists across the specific competences so as to achieve an added value. Through my working method the director and visual artist Janne Hoems approach as well as the thematic aesthetics will encounter my own perspective as a composer and singer / actor. We will seek a method in which much of the material may occur in the meeting between the visual, the aural, spatial, textual, thematic and kinesthetic. Nevertheless, we have a visual and musical starting point. We will shoot in black and white and look for a pictorial language beyond time. We will alternate between abstract and concrete pictorial material.

Musically we will work as previously mentioned with the sounds of language, but also with instrumentation that creates an aural timelessness. Traditional historical instruments can be combined with, for example, electronics, processed and distorted string instruments, and industrial sounds. In this work, I have established an international collaboration by including the Japanese artist Seshen. With her diverse background, understanding of the form, and interest in the working method, I see her as a suitable co-creative performer.


The Edda poem “Skirnesmaal” is a thematic and sonic (textual) starting point for our filmatic and aural work. We have engaged the Norwegian poet and playwright Erling Kittelsen who is an expert on Norse poetry. He will help us to read, interpret and understand this poem. This way we will be able to work with different contextualization of the material, to improve our background for the deconstruction of the original poetic material.


“The poem ‘Skirnismaal about Frey’s passion for the glorious jotunmøy Gerd and his henchman Skirnes travel on a proposal for his master.

One day Frey sitting on Lidskjalv and look “beyond the world”, he turns his gaze towards Jotunheimen and gets an eye on a beautiful maiden as she walked from her father’s house to the Virgin cage. He was immediately gripped by the strongest love, and it caused him great heartache. His father, Njord and mother Skade sends Skirne off to ferret out the reason for the sorrow.


Skirne requests Freys horse that can ride through troll fire and his sword that turns itself against enemies. Equipped with these two precious possessions he goes so off to Jotunheimen. Skirne comes to Gerd, first with promises, then with threats. He tries to getting her to be Frey’s wife, but all in vain. Then he threatens to kill her, but it scares her not.


First, by using magic runes it succeeds Skirne to move her to meet Frey in nine nights, and with this knowledge he rides home to his master. Frey is standing outside waiting for him, he is so impatient that he does not let Skirne have time to dismount the horse before he has told how things have gone. When Frey has found out, he gives his impatient longing following expression:

“Long is the night,

long are two;

how can I wait three?

Often one month me

shorter seemed

than half a night when I long. ”

Thus ends this little beautiful poem, which is likewise excellent when it comes to finding the expression of the newly awakened love tumultuous longing that the characteristics of the three-speaking people. “(From Henrik Jaeger’s work” Illustrated Norwegian Literaturhistorie “1896)


This poem about the god Frey love of Gerd can be read as a historically unique, poetic representation of the total masculine longing and devotion to the woman. Noteworthy is the fact that Frey exposes his vulnerability by giving up his power as he sends Skirnir off with his magic sword and his magical horse. However, what can be interpreted as a manifestation of the masculine fear of female strength, when it needs curses, threats and witchcraft before Gerd will meet Freyr. The “Territory” discusses roles, status and expectations related to gender, origin, social and geographical background. We do not want to give any answers, rather, we want through a poetic and sometimes abstract language to facilitate reflection related to a universal and topical content.

How free are we? Are we as humans dependent on dealing with fear? Is it fear that prevents human openness and freedom? Do we lose grip on life if we allow ourselves to be free? Do we have to overcome or at least acknowledge the fear to achieve freedom?

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