Steamboat Switzerland
Pierre Huyghe
Tyler Whisnand



Tyler Whisnand and Pierre Huyghe met each other during the last Venice Biennial and continued their contact via email. They discussed a concept in advance and worked it out independently of each other. Huyghe's film consists of a single shot of a chic hotel room where the television is on. First we see only the test picture, then a few fragments of faces. The room remains empty; nothing else happens. Whisnand also makes use of a monitor. On his screen we see texts flashing by like news announcements at a station or on CNN: 'Flag factories at busiest levels since last war' or 'attacks on common ground not unique'. In particular, the addition of 'more soon' to each line awakens curiosity. At the same time the content does not divulge itself completely. The sentences remain stuck in the throat, as it were.
The music of Steamboat Switzerland seems to be the complete opposite of the images, but it does add an extra value to both the films. Instead of the yawning void to which Huyghe and Whisnand address themselves, Steamboat Switzerland is dominated by chaos. What is striking about their composition is the sudden begin and the abrupt end. The rapid succession of notes and the hectic combination of composed and improvised music, together with the instruments used (including amplified piano, classical guitar, drums, percussion, Leslie loudspeaker), is in sharp contrast to the silence in Huyghe's hotel room. Yet all three contributions seem to be a commentary on modern life and it is fascinating to see how chaos and emptiness ultimately balance each other out.