Klejs & Rønsholdt is the artistic brand for visual artist Signe Klejs’ cooperation with composer Niels Roensholdt. The two artists have been working primarily with alternative opera- and installation projects and have been cooperating since 2002 and since 2010 under management of EditionS
KLEJS & RØNSHOLDT AND THEIR ARTISTIC PROJECT
– the context of Breathless Moment
Klejs & Rønsholdt have experimented for years with the opera genre, its form and what new technology can offer it and its audience: e.g. a traditional staged video set-up in Inside your mouth, sucking the sun (2004), a spatial installation in Room of Relation (2007) and various mixed forms most recently with the interactive video/opera-installation HoneyMoon (2009). A common thread runs through these works, which all support one and the same artistic strategy: a desire to meet the audience with the highest possible impact of expression and to bring it as closely as possible on the individual spectator. It is therefore a main priority for this Danish artist duo to challenge the traditional surroundings in which opera is performed, to unwrap it from its huge mausoleums and send it where film, music, series, games etc. already are: on the portable media like tablet, laptop, smart-phone.
That, then, is the point of departure for Breathless Moment, the first opera for mobile applications and the next round in Klejs & Rønsholdt’s continuous challenging of a more than 500-year-old art form.
The central force of opera as a genre is something that it shares with film and theatre: as Klejs & Rønsholdt see it, we as audiences experience an emotional suppression of self when we place our time and attention at the disposal of a story and get absorbed by it. Now, user-generated interaction is a major trend and opens the door to new kinds of audiences, also in artistic practice; it creates new possibilities but it also implies artistic risks to be consciously taken. Klejs & Rønsholdt are inspired by this delicate balance and exercise it with ever-increasing inventiveness in their works and choices of media. They know that an interactive audience can focus so much on its own presence and its own actions that it is not able to experience the illusion central to all good theatre. But by their alternative set-up and use of refined technology they maximise the power of a given expressive utterance, bridging the gap to the story and the actors that is all too often felt in an opera house or a theatre.
The opera installation HoneyMoon (2009) was Klejs & Rønsholdt’s attempt at a new opera form placing the individual (the ”solo public”) directly in medias res while retaining the narrative power and intensity of the genre. In HoneyMoon the spectator experiences the three-dimensional operatic work on his/her own, controlling the angle of vision by adopting a particular position in front of the screen, but at the same time a powerful controlling force is exercised in the form of a pre-composed and pre-planned sequence from start to finish. There is clear dramaturgy and a strong artistic focus, and the experience is directly negotiated between the artists and the individual spectator.
The opera Breathless Moment is yet another step forward for Klejs & Rønsholdt. It is an app-opera in 7 scenes for mobile units. Like HoneyMoon it is an interactive point-of-view opera: the spectator sees everything as if with his/her own eyes and controls sight lines and movement around the virtual space, facilitated by the intuitive steering mechanisms built into an iPhone or other mobile device.