Sight + Sound: Switzerland [1/31/17-3/2/17] / by a zugunruhe

The Trip

In late 2016, I left my position at a healthcare startup and started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. At the time I was also working a lot at the gallery in Greenpoint so I started researching what to do in the art world. I applied for a residency in Iceland and was accepted. 

While planning, I tacked on a month long stay in Switzerland, because why not?

Staying with friends in Zurich, I bought a $500 USD Travel Pass that allowed me to use nearly every railway in in the country for free. I used this to my fullest advantage, taking trips on scenic railways and to explore the other large cities in Switzerland. I probably pulled $2000 USD of value out of it.

This is the fruit of those daily trips, which often had me back in Zurich by nightfall.

The Video

A few weeks before I left the country, I was able to duck and dodge my way around Sundance Film Festival in Park City. 

One of the films I caught was World Without End (No Reported Incidents) by Jem Cohen. The film centered around a small town in England with beautiful, static shots of daily life along with interviews of a handful of residents. The framing of shots and the blending of audio throughout truly hit me as something I could incorporate into the travel videos I have always loved shooting.

Once in Switzerland, I began taking video whenever I took a photograph that I liked. I framed these shots not only around basic composition and movement, but with the audio happening in the environment as well.

My aim was to build a sense of what it is like to be standing in these places. Too often are parts of the world portrayed through over-processed photos taken over long exposures and through filters. I wanted to add in the noise of tourists, the screeching of vehicles, and the ever present wind. These come together to offer sense of humor and realism that I love.

While editing, I composed the music after setting a timeline of video and edited from there. After establishing a flow of video, the most important thing for me was joint audio and video syncopation. the main trigger I used was the pass of melody without a descending note at the end. I timed the lack of note with a swan cleaning itself, a watch ticking, and a train gaining speed. I made sure everything matched as well as possible.

The Music

I had a lot of thoughts about what to do for the music. At the center was the yodel. I did my best to use the traditional vocal technique in the score for the video. but my synthesizer simply could not replicate the unique break that occurs when pushing the human voice to a falsetto that quickly.

Beyond that idea, I decided to replicate Swiss precision in machinery. I thought of a toy music box that unraveled the wonder of the country, starting with a simple melody that unwinds slowly, leading toward the bass and percussive elements of the mountains.

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