Jorn Ebner - Electro mountain

4:09, 2010, Video Art
In a sequence of images, a foggy landscape and a tower are seen; then the camera moves inside the tower and eventually depicts visual score sheets. The imagery then goes on to show a barn floor and a musical stand, before the screen goes black: from now on the music can be heard. Performed by sheep. Inspired by novels such as ‘Correction’ by Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, Electro Mountain is an hommage to musical structures. The beautiful foggy landscape of the South Dorset Ridgeway provides the ambience for this atmospheric piece.

Electro Mountain was developed as a PVA MediaLab and Dorset AONB commission, as part of the South Dorset Ridgeway Heritage Project.


date: April - June 2010
location: South Dorset Ridgway
concept, camera, sound, edit: Jorn Ebner
technical data: photographed as RAW format digital imagery; filmed on HD Video

DirectorJorn EbnerProducerPva Medialab / Dorset AonbWriterJorn EbnerCameraJorn EbnerEditorJorn Ebner

CountryGermanySubtitlesNo subtitlesEdition2011 ScreeningsSouth Dorset Ridgeway Festival, 17.07.2010.

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Who is Jorn Ebner?
I am an artist, based in Berlin. I grew up outside of Hamburg, studied literature and illustration there, before I moved to London in 1995 to study fine art at Central Saint Martins. After 14 years in the UK, I relocated to Germany. My works have a general interest in cities and landscapes; the process of navigation, why (and how) one manoeuvres into this but not the other direction in order to reach a point of destination; the everyday ’adventures’ and coincidences motivate me. The forms and media that I am using are mostly actions, photography, sound and drawings that may coincide in one work. Since 2000, this has often been internet or browser based art.

What is Electro mountain about?
Landscape. Beautiful English countryside in Dorset and the musical sounds that the animals create in that part of the world. It begins as a simple slide show of sheep in a foggy landscape. Then there is a tower, which I saw as a nod to the late Austrian novelist Thomas Bernhard, and the image is moving for a brief period. Then there are drawings - scores - and the sheep are heard singing.

How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
As an art student at Central Saint Martins in London, I investigated the films of Jean-Luc Godard. His attitudes influenced me. And I still watch his films or read his interviews with fascination. During my studies, I used the video camera but I was more interested in photographic stills: slides have an object-like quality that goes well with my actions and objects; later, working with internet technologies, I developed the techniques of slide shows into flash-animations. Eventually, as higher bandwidth became available, I began using photographic imagery. But what interests me is the individual image in relation to all the other images and to the space within the screen. This I investigated with my browser works. ’Electro Mountain’ developed from the browser works as a single screen piece.

Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
My works have a general interest in cities and landscapes; the process of navigation, why (and how) one manoeuvres into this but not the other direction in order to reach a point of destination; the everyday ’adventures’ and coincidences motivate me. I learned from Allan Kaprow in the sense that a small private activity may count as art: it may instigate our thinking about existence - the way we live, communicate, etc - which is one of the important purposes of art and a drive that motivates me. I was lucky to study with him in 1997.

How long do you usually work on one project?
That differs from one to the other.

Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
Both. At first, I plan and then I diverge but often go back to the first idea.

How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
I wanted a title that combined something natural with something associated to artificiality, to electronic music, digital production, etc. It was somehow there to be picked up.

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
Cities, Landscapes, Play, Occurences, My son’s play, Other people, Animals, Ideas, Books, Comics, Music, Film, Other things I cannot just think of

How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
My sounds are original sound pieces. They are for the films and relate in structure to the videos. But they are sound works, that is, they are not there to support the images but they are to intertwine with them or even have their own place without an image. Hence, there are no images when the sheep sing.

How does content relate to the form of your work?
One inspires the other and vice versa. Sometimes, I have a form in mind, sometimes there are images first. Usually they come at the same time, the idea of contents brings an idea of form (or the other way around).

What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?
The web has developed into a commercial place, that is becoming increasingly unattractive. The browsers increasingly disallow artistic play for the sake of ’security’. I used to work excessively with pop-up windows; use various sizes, let them open and close. My interest was in the browser window, its position on the screen and its relation to it, and in the way that these windows might move themselves. Technologists are removing these possibilities one by one. Everything is forced into a streamlined appearance. Not become entangled in the web fashions, not be a social-networker and get by without fashionable expensive gadgets. Make it all less ugly to look at. Not make money with it.

Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?
It opened up ways of making work that were impossible to do otherwise. Animation, using multiple windows in one screen, make these windows move. Some of the web technologies excite me. The web is one of the public places where I have been operating as an artist for the last ten years - ’a second generation web artist’, as I have been called by Chris Byrne, formerly New Media Scotland, who commissioned by first ever web work, ’Life Measure Constructions’, in 2000.

Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?
Art. Cinema is usually commercial. Sometimes art moves into cinema. Sometimes cinema has a quality of art - but I don’t mean this in terms of high quality images, or the usual bla bla about these matters - it is when cinema developes a kind of visual philosophy.

How influential is the reaction to your film by the audience?
Depends on the reaction.

What is your next project about?
’(The Beatles) in Hamburg’ is a sound art / public art project that is about to be completed in December 2011. I made sound pieces using field_recordings from places in Hamburg, where the Beatles stayed during the visits in the early 1960s, before Beatlemania broke loose. A book-cd will be published by The Green Box, Berlin. The music is accompanied by graphic scores - drawings - in one publication. Any musician, ensemble or conductor could develop new sound works on the basis of these scores, drawn after the sound works.

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