Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More

Konrad Smoleński

“Everything” describes in its meaning an existing, but not definable number of things or entities. It defines the largest imaginable range and, at the same time, has the smallest possible definition of content. Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More is a monumental sound installation by the polish sound and video artist Konrad Smoleński, which demonstrates the potential and the physical effect of sound on corporeality and perception in an impressive way.

Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More is a sculptural instrument consisting of two handmade bronze bells, sound transducers, microphones, enormous wide-range loudspeakers and resonant objects. Sound itself is a mechanically oscillating movement in an elastic medium. In this way it moves in air as pressure and density fluctuations and is perceptible to the listener and observer when it strikes his ear and skin. The actual experience is detached from any previous knowledge, predestination or cognition. Within the installation, sound waves in their physical non-tangibility become an inevitable physical confrontation and a defined perceptible entity. The visitors’ physique is addressed directly. Their organs, feelings and surrounding objects are put into interaction with the pressure of the sound waves.

In the exhibition situation, the installation reproduces at regular intervals a piece of music specially written for this setup, based on a contrast between the sacred sounds of the bells, the penetrating sound waves and the resonating walls and materials. Through resonance and the use of various delay effects, a sound body of tremendous force is built up, which generates an abstraction of chronological progression in its continual self-excitation and self-reference. The perceived concept of time as a sequence of events becomes a stationary vibration, in which historicity approaches stasis.

The work with its generated experiences constitutes a contemporary artistic version of a radical  approach of modern physics: Time in its structure as a perceived direct sequence is only an illusion.

The installation is adapted to the architectural conditions at each performance location, enabling it to directly interact with the surrounding space. In its probably most striking and memorable performance venue, the Venice Biennale, the Polish Pavilion was occupied by this work alone.

With Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More, Smoleński transformed the pavilion into a national contribution that oscillated between minimalist understatement and progressive brutality. The polar loudspeaker towers were flanked by resonators on the walls behind them.  The two enormous church bells, which are placed in the centre of the room, have been set in motion in rhythmic intervals and meant the beginning and the keynote of an impulsive acoustic performance. Subsequently, all the bodies in the room, including the architectural framework of the pavilion itself, began to vibrate. The installation is continuously serving as a stage for a series of performances by other outstanding contemporary artists during it’s exhibition duration.

Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More is inevitable in its conception and execution and, as its name suggests, really everything.