THE OUTLANDS - we watch them going in a bubble of breath held -

execution
THE EXECUTION OF K. S.

01 The patent office holds the published application for a mechanism that its author claims transmits radio signals. While the invention’s function is easily named, its method is unusual and not related to those on which our familiar transmitters are based. Two discs mounted with overlapping radii spin on uneven axes, coming into contact intermittently. “Misaligned high-hat cymbals” is what they are like, the description proposes, but larger. The dimensions given on a diagram specify that the two discs together add up to the size of “a man’s outstretched arms”. Other parts are described as the patent application requires. But even for someone familiar with technical descriptions and able to read circuit diagrams, on the basis of the published application alone it is difficult to understand how the device works. A further explanation would be needed. To put it this way is to speak with some irony because in fact the document has been written precisely to be insufficient for a reader’s reconstruction of the device, while at the same time answering the patent office’s requirements with perfect sufficiency.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 1

02 A part of the day is lost, an odd time is made to inhere in it during which you are hypnotised by the dripping tap. The measure of seconds is less significant than the sense of time rid of its layering. While you listen to the sediment of background work, those things you’re conscious of working on are pushed away. You are gripped by the impression that in the sound there is a note. The dripping can be heard as the plain sound of water, but the sound has a tendency. It seems to aspires. In the chaos of shattered frequencies something is trying to come together – failing but with each new drip trying again.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 2

03 Find a footing on the rails; prepare to address the one whose closer company you crave. Two tunnels are separated by a division of stone and brick that allows sound to pass. In the second tunnel a diminished echo from the first can be heard, but altered on account of the way that the wall absorbs some frequencies and transmits others. As the freight carrier comes, its thundering approach seems to cast before it a narrow and penetrating composition. You drift into a revere, only to be brought back by the rattle of things nearby, fixings, infrastructure in the tunnel aiding freight in its transit drawn into the composition. A portion of the tunnel is flood-lit, bulbs behind steel grills illuminate steam, water dripping with a hiss and a steady drip, drip, onto their heated casings.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 3

04 It is a critical moment. An encounter is taking place. The one in whom you have invested is about to meet a being of mysterious and frightening origin. Part human but with a fox’s head, and with the movements of a body not subject to gravity. The other player is out of view for the moment although you know where he is, behind the screen in a space accessible through a narrow opening. The floating fox-man intends to go in that direction. Your anxiety will increase markedly if – as you suspect is about to happen – the second of the two players moves out of view. Considering the accompaniment independently, its elements are perhaps not equally successful. One component seems heavy-handed in its theatricality. Now you think about it the others had not even crossed your mind as being added sound.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 4

05 Here the ground’s baked clay erupts into a monolith with two wide, flat sides facing to the East and West. Imagine how it has come into being. Look closer, beyond what the eye can see and into a composite of soil, masticated wood pulp and insect faeces. The microscopic dimensions of visibility hold a microbial time, a colony’s generations contributing without comprehending the whole that has brought their work so strikingly into phase with our own time. Cool air circulating in its interior gives the terminarium a breath of its own, life extended to baked clay by way of porosity, on account of involutions too intricate to observe but there in the sound when you listen.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 5

06 This thing’s workings have been removed, separated from the casing that trivialises them with its crude representation. Some care has been taken but not enough, it seems. The plastic moulding decorated with coloured transfers is discarded now along with some other parts that should have been kept – at least so if the mechanism was worth preserving. Now a new support will have to be fabricated if it is to run independently. No matter. Such tasks if not anticipated precisely have been foreseen. They may even have been the reason for the original dismantling. A new structure will be made from sheet-aluminium, from a strip cut, scored, flexed and broken, then bent to hold the workings, to hold them free of the surface that would impede their running. Then its operation will be there to be watched, to be enjoyed for what it is, for the idea of purposes to which it might be turned if interest can be sustained long enough.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 6

07 Visitors arriving for the first time are affected by the hanger in a way connected to the constrictions of its access route. When they step out of the buggy and climb the short rise, after an initial exclamation there is a period of extended silence, the hanger’s vastness taken in. Its size affects perception of the activities seen clearly enough at the further end before the contour of the floor puts them out of view. Those who work seem orderly in their movements. Their thoughts must be untroubled too. Lights are distributed in regiments. For the visitor to fall silent while looking on these things signals the recalibrating of time. They don’t realise their silence but we have come to recognise the response as a peculiarity of the hanger.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 7

08 Four sticks and a tarpaulin. When we say ‘sticks’ we mean poles, like tent-poles, but of the old kind disassembled for storage and transport. By ‘tarpaulin’ we mean green, not canvas but a plastic weave, waterproof all the same. Such fabrics are noisy. The wind looses their cacophony; rain is amplified making it all the more surprising to see it used here – unless of course the weather has been anticipated to be part of the composition. Our performer works intensely. Meanwhile a steady trickle of water finds its way over the edge of the tarpaulin from a reservoir collecting there, which will have to be attended to soon. When a convenient moment presents itself the tarpaulin will be prodded from below. Even if the water is expected to go the other way a warning will be issued to those nearby since bodies of water liberated from canopies are known to be unpredictable.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 8

09 It’s an old-fashioned technique but works surprisingly here to evoke what’s mysterious in thought’s process. The screen’s image is split in two with a blurry division down the centre. On the left, a scene from the park. By a combination of density and the colour of its foliage the Copper Beech bring darkness to the picture. On the right, the character’s profile is made to be the tree’s double by the shot’s composition, which persists only for a moment but long enough for the division to be is registered as the kind usually signifying the collapse of space, the extremes of a telephone line for instance, showing simultaneous expressions on the faces of two speakers. (Why do they not say goodbye politely, the last to speak simply finishing her sentence and with a secret smile putting the receiver down?) If it were reproduced exactly, the effect would be comedic. Instead the dissolve, and the pan that comes round more squarely onto the dense foliage, gives the mind in revere – not a vacant mind but thought resolving, intuiting the effect of events to come which cannot be evaded – which would not be evaded even if they could – because there are things more important than to find the least resistant path through the events of ones life.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 9

10 An aerial positioned on the bungalow’s roof is the older of two devices. More recently, to extend the range of broadcasting operations, a new aerial has been erected within the bungalow’s fenced enclosure. Its main upright portion is a ‘box’ structure in anodised steel bolted to concrete foundations. Cables tied to four outlying foundations protect it from strong winds. For the aerial to be installed a portion of the perimeter fence had to be taken down. A temporary road surface was laid but the contractors’ vehicles churned up the turf all the same, making the corner of the enclosure into a muddy building site. Above the slim structure two rods extend from a cream-coloured housing. One is longer than the other. At its tip is a more slender rod still that flexes in the wind. A red light on the housing indicates broadcast operations in progress.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 10

11 The tube has a rib that runs in a helical path around its circumference, which is in fact a v-shaped profile pressed into the structure for increased rigidity. Leaning into the opening you must be careful not to catch your clothes on its rough edge. With your head, arms and shoulders now inside the tube, experience the different acoustics. The voices of colleagues are still audible, but muffled. At the same time sound from the other chamber, visible clearly as a disc of light, is amplified. What’s given is a selection of sound, a representation of that other space’s activity based on the tube’s direction – at least, that’s what you imagine. And whatever sounds you make – for instance, as you run your finger over the tube’s internal profile to feel the v-shaped dent pressed into it for rigidity – is amplified and added. There might be time to experiment some more, to try out a couple of different movements with the hand over metal, or to breath differently and to listen to that effect too amplified or bounced from one surface to another before you are required to return and give your assessment about matters that have nothing to do with sound inside the tube.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 11

12 In fact neither men are supposed to be here in the deserted stadium. One gets in first to greet the other with the accusatory question – let’s call them A and B. A gets in first with the question that B himself might have been well set to present. Should you be here? Do you have authorisation? What are you looking for? Or more euphemistically: can I help you? B’s response is quick enough, evasive and latent with accusation. If A was truly carrying out the terms of his employment and doing nothing else, B’s presence would be of no concern. But the obverse is true too. It’s the frisson of trespass that’s brought B here, and now it’s in his manner in the form of guilt. In A’s case something more indictable is being hidden, B thinks, an extra-curricular programme. On the table there is a cloth of green fabric, on the cloth a container, on the container a lid that, when B caught a glimpse of him first, A was lifting. Now A lowers the lid and lifts it again, lowers it and lifts it. The box is empty. When a person knows he is being watched, everything that followed is diversion. B should think back to what was unresolved in A’s gesture just at the moment he realised he was being watched. The answer is there.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 12

13 An odd brightness is visible in rings that show each exhaust. It’s odd to see a brightness in the sky at midday which is not the sun. The two bright rings are matched by intense and directional sound, not loud – at least not yet. You can hear the peculiarity that tells what’s coming. Look at the portion of sky through which the aircraft has just flown. There loudness is located. When the plane banks, when for a moment your standing position on the railway platform corresponds with its forward vector, at that moment the sound will achieve its magnitude. It will shatter the peace that reigned over farm lands and you will be struck again by the complicity that must exist between the Air Force base and the town nearby from which it takes its name.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 13

14 Sometimes the Sea King can be spotted flying low, following the coast on a training exercise. Walkers are lucky and find themselves close to the spot where it comes to hover. As it rotates its position carefully to face the mid-afternoon sun it shows one flank and its open door, a dark interior, two men wearing helmets preparing to descend on a rope into a weather system made by the aircraft’s own blades.

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  • The Execution of Kurt Steiner # 14

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