Security Fugue by David Phillips and Paul Rowley
Contrasting the promise of rescue with threats of captivity and injury, Security Fugue examines personal responses to crisis in the current arena of ubiquitous security. Images of a rescue helicopter move across the screen in exaggerated slow motion, while on a second screen, the camera tracks over aeriel views of a hospital and rescue crew on the ground below. In the audio track, stuttering confessions and dislocated murmurs echo in unison with the constant rhythm of chopping helicopter blades which fills the space. Sources for the piece are varied; a small excerpt of a 35mm Hollywood trailer from the early 1970’s, a 16mm educational film about psychological responses to disasters, taped recordings of phone calls made by Patty Hearst from captivity in 1974, interviews with Hearst from 2003 describing her revisited experiences of captivity, and original sound compositions by the artists. The memory lapse of the amnesiac is taken as a starting point from which to investigate the process of forgetting, remembering and rewriting of recent memories. These editorial patterns of amnesia are juxtaposed visually with images of physical constraint that parallel the collective mental state of a society in a state of siege. Musically, the imitative polyphonic compositional structure of the fugue in which a theme is stated successively in several voices is used both to determine the editing structure of the work and for its references to pursuit and flight. In psychiatry, the fugue is described as a condition of pathological amnesia during which one is apparently conscious of one’s actions, but has no recollection of them after returning to a normal state. This condition, usually resulting from severe mental stress, is of interest in describing a trauma that is experienced both individually and collectively. In installation, the piece is presented as two side-by-side large-scale projections with a surround sound audio mix.