The exhibition War Work : Eight Songs with Film is conceived as a multi-screen installation of five video projections. It features five different edits of the original film directed by Michael Nyman in 2014. The film was commissioned by a consortium of five European institutions to commemorate the anniversary of the First World War.
The original film has been designed mostly around footage selected from the French, German and American First World War film archives that were available to Michael Nyman and his editor, Max Pugh. The work depicts the infinite amount of work, activity, efforts and energy which took place in the months leading to the War, relates -most appropriately- to the idea of the Body-as-Machine (or non-machine) and references a wide range of aesthetics movements which emerged in the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the absurdity of the war.
In light of the sheer quantity of visual material Nyman was faced with, the 2014 version of the film has become the first of a series of “remakes” in which Nyman engages with the concept of ‘non-destructive editing” as originally defended and implemented by Dziga Vertov in his Kino Pravda series. This form of editing signals where the original content is not modified in the course of editing. Four (five) edits will then follow the original version in which Nyman questions the choices he makes in terms of imagery, sequences, themes, randomness and visual punctuation within the same framework of time and pool of imagery.
The result is a post-modernist essay on experimental documentary film making through the bias of cinematographic collage. A unique and groundbreaking technical adventure, the exhibition creates a sensory experience through its ‘”forest of images” accompanied by the original score for War Work: Eight Songs with Film written by Michael Nyman.
About Michael Nyman
As one of Britain's most innovative and celebrated composers, Michael Nyman's work encompasses operas and string quartets, film soundtracks and orchestral concertos. Far more than merely a composer, he's also a performer, conductor, bandleader, pianist, author, musicologist and now a photographer and film-maker. Although he's far too modest to allow the description 'Renaissance Man', his restless creativity and multi-faceted art has made him one of the most fascinating and influential cultural icons of our times.
Michael Nyman is a composer, pianist, librettist, writer, musicologist, photographer and film-maker whose work encompasses opera, concert music and film soundtracks of which The Draughtsman's Contract and The Piano are the best-known. Since founding the Michael Nyman Band in 1977, which tours the world, he has worked with leading film directors and has collaborated with artists such as Mary Kelly, Damon Albarn, Carsten Nicolai and the recent Oscar winning Man on Wire star Phillippe Petit. An exhibition of his photographs and video-works was recently shown at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill and more exhibitions are planned. His music is available via an extensive range of recordings on his own label, MN Records.