4 Films

The following are four films which were screened at the first Orphans event at the Belmont Cinema, Aberdeen on 4th March 2012.  Below, the artists discuss their approach to their works:

AURPHONES by Pete Stollery

[film created by Ross Whyte – see/hear the original version, “The Pillowman”, on the main Orphans page]
This repeating series of ten short “orphans”, which gradually slows down through the 3 1/2 minutes of the film, made me think of my early days as a composer of electroacoustic music, when I used magnetic tape to create music rather than hard disk space. I used to throw endless amounts of this stuff in the bin at the end of a session, bits of tape containing sounds that I’d decided that I didn’t want to use. Composing in the digital domain, there’s nothing “thrown away” like this as you don’t actually cut into the equivalent of a piece of tape and discard what you don’t need; the computer finds the portion of the sound you want to work with and leaves the original file unaltered.
For the soundtrack to this film, I decided to revisit a number of recent pieces of music and find parts of sounds that I did not use in the final piece; digital audio orphans – or “aurphones”.

Pete Stollery is a composer, teacher and performer based in Aberdeen, in the North East of Scotland.  He composes almost exclusively in the electroacoustic medium, particularly music where there exists an interplay between the original “meaning” of sounds and sounds exiting purely as sound, divorced from their physical origins.  In his music, this is achieved by the juxtaposition of real (familiar) and unreal (unfamiliar) sounds to create surreal landscapes.


LIGHTS IN THE SKULL by Steve Morrison and Scott Lyon

This 16-minute film is a reworked version of a much longer piece I made in 2007 for a performance by the sadly now defunct improvising group Mickel Mass.

The intention then was to make a slow-moving, atmospheric, dream-like piece, inspired by the writings of Lewis Carroll and Michel Leiris (whose incredible dream diary appears in the opening shot) and the surreal, experimental filmworks of Man Ray, Maya Deren and Jean Cocteau (the latter two of whose works I quote from in both films), that the group’s musicians would “soundtrack” live, having not seen the finished film beforehand. A kind of visual score, if you will.

Whereas the original film featured three actors I have chosen in this new version to focus solely on one young woman, Roxanne Darling, as she drifts about in the underworld (“through the looking glass”).

Finally, as the original film was silent, patiently awaiting its improvised score, I realised that it would be necessary to add a soundtrack. I asked my friend Scott Lyon, who’d never written any film music before, if he’d be interested in giving it a go and I have to say that the music he has come up with has improved the film immeasurably, underscoring the moody atmosphere and generating some much-needed tension.

Steve Morrison was born, bred and educated locally (MA Hons in English Literature).  He played bass in the rock group One God Universe (1990-1995), who recorded and released two self-financed albums and played regularly in and around Aberdeen.  He began making short films on digital video about ten years ago, some of which were used as projections at concerts by musicians Andy Smith and Patrick Keenan.  He has also documented numerous musical performances by Bill Thompson, Andy Smith and Patrick Keenan, Mickel Mass and Damo Suzuki.

Scott Lyon is based in the North East of Scotland, Scott Lyon has been a guitarist and songwriter in many local bands. He has been involved in music development projects throughout Aberdeen, and has also written songs and music for several youth theatre productions. ‘Lights In The Skull’ is his first film soundtrack.

The soundtrack for ‘Lights in the Skull’ was inspired by the dream-like quality of the slow moving images. Electronic sounds and field recordings were used to suggest both the atmosphere of each scene and the emotional journey of the character as she moves through the film.


One of my artist-heroes is the experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage.  Brackhage was well known for his thoughts on film standing on its own, without the necessary accompaniment of a sound track.  He wrote that “Film is obviously visual and, from an aesthetic standpoint, I see no need for a film to be accompanied by sound any more than I would expect a painting to be.  At first I did make sound films, but I felt sound limited seeing so I gave it up.  My films were complex enough and difficult enough to see without any distraction of the ear thinking.”  Brackhage would also speak of ‘visual rhythm’, that is, the inherent rhythmic aspects that exist within not only the content of a film, but in the nature of the film medium itself and its ability to provoke experiences similar to music.  As a sound artist, who also works in video, Brackhage’s comments and work in general are both inspiring and intimidating; all of my visual works, this one included, reflect this inspiration/intimidation complex.

Quietly Untitled was left ‘soundless’ for many of the reasons that Brackhage related in the above quote, that is that the inclusion of sound detracted from, rather than added to, the experience.  There is a certain quality, a rhythm, that flickers throughout QU‘s 18 minutes that although a soundtrack might make ‘easeier’ to experience, would nonetheless dull or detract from the inherent, almost frantic, experience of the video itself.  The video was made completely from footage of another experimental filmmaker, subjecting his material similarly to the original, but using 21st century technology.  To divulge more would perhaps spoil the fun, but for the curious there are small hints throughout the video of the source material.

If I would dare suggest anything, which I generally don’t, I would say that as with many of Brackhage’s painted films, not to look for any meaning within the video, or attempt to relate it to anything beyond one’s moment by moment experience of it, with its recurring and developing rhythmic sequences.  For what it’s worth, I have absolutely no idea what this video might ‘mean’, only that in its vacuousness I find a space that allows for experiences I haven’t yet had, which I value.

Bill Thompson is a sound and video artist who has performed extensively throughout the UK and abroad.  His work involves the combination of found objects, field recordings, repurposed live electronics, and digital media to create evolving structures for installations and live performance.


A’ FAS SOILLEIR by Claire M Singer

a’ fas soilleir was originally written for mechanical organ, electronics and film.  The work has since been shown at various events as film and electronics only.  The piece was inspired by The Storr in the Isle of Skye and captures the atmosphere of this rugged Scottish landscape through sound and film.

Claire M Singer is a composer and performer from Scotland, currently based in London.  Her work, which includes fixed media, multi-media, installation and live electronics has been widely commissioned, exhibited and performed throughout Europe and North America including SPNM, London; Sound Festival, Aberdeen; Ladyfest; Tate Modern London; The Shunt Vaults London; Chez Poulet Gallery, San Francisco; XMV, New York City; PRSG Fylkingen Institute, Stockholm; Ceremony Hall, Austin, TX; Soundfjord, London; Norwich Arts Centre and no.w.here, London.


  1. […] Untitled is my most recent video work, premiered as part of Ross Whyte’s Orphans event on March 4th, 2012 in Aberdeen, Scotland. It’s an uncharacteristically (for me) silent […]

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