How do you maintain focus and concentration in a world of interruptions and disturbances? Disturbances that does not only come from the outside, from a confusing and intese outer world, but just as musch from the inside of our heads. From a continousely inner production of assosciations and thoughts.
The armenian philosopher and mystic G.I.Gurdjieff once gave a student a task to count from one to fifty and backwards seven times. While counting, he should at the same time observe everything that threatened to interrupt the simple assignement. This task was intended to give the young person a tool, a mean to observe the impulses that travel with high speed on the inside and the outside of ones own head. All that makes it difficult, and at times impossible, to stay focused.
The violinist Victoria Johnsen has taken the task of the student in this piece. But in contrast to the student, she has several tasks to perform. At the same time she should play her violin, count and move. Around her in the performance is a stream of images and sounds from her own life. Fragments of sound recordings taken from her home, where she lives with a daughter and husband, sounds from her surroundings as a professional musician and research fellow at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and the outer world sounds of traffick and masses of people.
In this stream of impressions of outer images and sounds from her own life Victoria struggle to keep her focus on the task of playing and counting. In Victoria Counting II she stands in front of us as an example, an allegori of a fight we all have. To keep ourself together, and maintain a focus.
We can not live without stimuli. Infants die without stimuli and we are all dependent of the stream that meets us from the outside, and is produced on the inside of our own heads. Bu one can choose to feel lost in the flood of impressions, or live with it. Stand in the middle of it, let it flow over and around us. But at the same time be aware of ourselves.
The piece Victoria Counting II is a work in process. Each time it is produced it is changed and developed. In the performance at NMH february 2009, a video was produced by Mattias Arvastsson. Edvin Østvik was in charge of the sound design and the programming of Max/MSP. Jon Tombre created the staging. The music, the sound and the idea of the piece is by Henrik Hellstenius.