A Requiem for the 20th Century

An open source artistic cooperation between Danish composer Simon Christensen and American filmmaker Bill Morrison is heading for world premiere June 16 at The Royal Danish Playhouse. The work is called ‘TRIBUTES - Pulse‘ and you can follow the creation on

TRIBUTES - Pulse is a remix of art film, music and sound production. The title refers to the work as a tribute to the four american composers Charles Ives, Conlon Nancarrow, Steve Reich and Trent Reznor.

The project is comprised of four movements, with the themes of Shifting (slightest change), Multiple (simultaneously different), Across (different directions) and Beat (moving synchronized) respectively corresponding to each composer.

The idea of "Pulse" is explored in both the music and the film. Christensen conceived of the role of Pulse - the rhythmic recurrence of vibration -  in the music of these four composers. But pulse is also explored as the through-line in a life, civilization, and nature.

Using exquisitely deteriorating nitrate-based archival film, Morrison weaves a story from the remnants of disparate narratives. The episodes appear intermittently between the undulating pulse of the film's decay, the imagery compromised - yet made all the more poignant - by a dying celluloid medium.

The four sections correspond visually to the four elements as a frontier for Man - Water, Earth, Fire and Air. The first glimpses moments in a woman's life. The second cuts between two frontier stories, when buffalo freely roamed the plains. The third examines industry and the loss of the frontier. The fourth explores flight, humankind's attempt to escape to the heavens, and Man's inevitable return to earth.

Through image and sound Morrison and Christensen have created a requiem for the 20th century - the persistence of a pulse, the contractions of the heart.