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An Entire Empty Factory Becomes a Work of Art

Explore modern surveillance and violence in Anders Weberg’s 'HERE ALL ALONE' installation in Copenhagen.
June 17, 2015, 8:37pm
Anders Weberg, HERE ALL ALONE, 2015, location shot for the total installation of sound and video art in ‘the white factory’ at Nørrebro, Copenhagen. All images courtesy HERE ALL ALONE

Swedish artist—and director of the soon-to-be world's longest filmAnders Weberg has constructed a large scale, fully interactive audio and video art piece, HERE ALL ALONE. Marking his first solo show in Denmark, the site-specific piece was curated by artist Tanya Toft and based on a urban digital art research at the nearby Copenhagen University's graduate program. The artist deems the work a "total installation," which fills the halls of the ‘white factory’—a facility in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen—and focuses on themes of disconnection and alienation created by recent violence in Copenhagen and around the globe.

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In the piece, Weberg examines the psychological effects caused by violence, forcing participants to confront the insecurities and fears embedded within contemporary society. Weberg juxtaposes the blunt concreteness and cold realism of the empty factory with abstract and exuberantly colorful video projections generated on his own cell phone. In addition, a collection of surveillance cameras have been rigged throughout the the warehouse to allow participants to experience the space remotely, and online audiences to watch participants react to the piece hosted at Hereallalone.dk.

Through soundscapes and visual projections dictated by the participants’ movements, the show implores participants to roam freely around the factory’s maze of cavernous spaces and dark staircases. While its easy to get lost in Weberg’s hyperstimulating installations, the interactive elements of the show provide a sense of control over the environment. As Weberg explains to participants before they enter, “when you come here, thats when the work starts and when you leave, it ends.”

The Creators Project spoke with Weberg to find out more about his vision for HERE ALL ALONE:

A teaser for the show.

The Creators Project: First off, can you tell me about the genesis of HERE ALL ALONE?

Anders Weberg: I was approached by the curator Tanya Toft last autumn for an exhibition at the Scandinavia House in New York and found out we really speak the same art language and there is no drama whatsoever between us. We also share the same worry for the state which in the world is in at the moment with the recent shootings and the growing racism. Both Denmark and Sweden have a very fast growing movement of these kinds of movements.

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What do you mean by "total installation?" My most immediate frame of reference is the term "total war." Are the two terms related in their totality?

The exhibition contains of four video installations and four sound installations, and one audio walk placed within the 21,527 square foot [space] but they are not separate. They are all one “total” installation, HERE ALL ALONE, and there is no divide between the artist and the audience.

This is your first show in Denmark—the third "Happiest Country in the World." Can you expand on how this particular setting (as well as the factory setting) is important to HERE ALL ALONE?

I grew up in a small town, Landskrona, the closest city to Copenhagen on the other side of the water in the 70s and in the early eighties we always took a ferry over almost every weekend since the alcohol laws are not as strict as in Sweden and back then there was still this romantic view of Denmark as a place of joy, but nowadays that has changed on so many levels. The video sequences are shot in and around the closed down factory at Nørrebro and in Copenhagen. With various visual and audio techniques the installations reflect images and impressions of a place and a city that is abandoned and empty of social presence. By these means I try to evoke emotions of loneliness, fear and alienation.

Installation shot. Anders Weberg, HERE ALL ALONE, 2015

Ultimately, the spaces are mostly devoid of objects but filled with a kind of "aura" of surveillance—fear, even. Can you talk to me about the challenges and advantages of working with these kinds of immaterial mediums? Is it sculptural process, or something altogether different?

For me it comes very natural since I always felt I have worked with giving the audience an emotional experience. There is an old Swedish avant-garde filmmaker, Gunvor Nelson, who did most of her works while she lived in the Bay Area in the mid-1960s and early 1970s. She uses the term “personal films” for her work and to that I can really relate since it stems from one person. When you paint, the term you choose will be described by method; mural painters for instance and so on. But when it comes to film we lack [the capacity] to describe what we are really doing.

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So to answer your question It’s an very personal, emotional process.

When viewers step inside HERE ALL ALONE, do you want them to feel as if they are inside a space here on Earth, or transported to somewhere else entirely?

My dream scenario is as If they gets transported into a different dimension in a way where the atmosphere takes over and people come out completely emotionally touched, intimate and personal.

Installation shot. Anders Weberg, HERE ALL ALONE, 2015

Can you talk to me a bit about the technical specifics, including your work with NULEINN?

I work a lot with new technologies in my practice but always in a way where the technology itself isn’t the purpose. It’s always how you can use the technology that’s important to me. I meet too many people that are stuck in with lenses to use and not what they want to say.

For this exhibition we wanted to use invisible technology like sensors, surveillance cams, and the Kinect. The software artists in NULEINN have done all the programming and the setup of the technology.

For example: A double, interactive video and sound installation by the main entrance of the exhibition surrounds the visitor. When you walk closer to the video wall, which shows a collage of video recordings of the closed down factory, from Nørrebro and the rest of Copenhagen, you will experience that the video reacts. When a sensor registers you, the video will disappear and be replaced by a different video on the opposite wall. This video shows a gunshot hole from the attack at Krudttønden on February 14, 2015, in Copenhagen. The new video image is accompanied by a whisper saying, ”You’re all alone”.

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Finally, what comes after HERE ALL ALONE?

Hopefully a change in the current situation in the world—of course not because of an art exhibition. That’s just naïve to think like that, but hopefully it can get people to reflect. For me artistically I will continue to work on Ambiancé, the 720-hour video that will premier in 2020. Next year sees the release of the first short 7 hour, 20 minute long trailer so I’m busy finishing that one.

Surveillance installation. Anders Weberg, HERE ALL ALONE, 2015. Web development: Michael Hansen

Installation shot. Anders Weberg, HERE ALL ALONE, 2015.

Learn more about the work of Anders Weberg on his website.

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