By Rolf Wallin and Boya Bøckman
My large orchestral piece Manyworlds was jointly commissioned by Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover. I often describe my orchestral music as “sculptures in sound and time”, and in 2012 Manyworlds was enhanced by a three-dimensional video created by Norwegian video artist Boya Bøckman, performed live with the orchestra in concert.
The collaboration started when I attended a theatre performance with video by Bøckman projected on back wall and floor. A particularly striking scene, both visually and emotionally, included an enormous pumping heart- or muscle-like structure (see picture). I immediately recognized this eerie “organism” as emanating from fractal geometry, a field I know very well from many years of using it in my own compositions.
Bøckman could confirm that it was indeed a fractal, the so-called Mandelbulb: a three-dimentional version of the Mandelbrot Set, for decades the foremost icon of fractal graphics. There are many films on the internet of this virtual “world”, which looks fascinatingly real and physical although it comes from a relatively simple mathematical formula. Usually they come in a Star Trek-like guise. But Bøckman’s “heart video” shows that one also can use it for entering esthetically and artistically sophisticated domains.
The Mandelbulb “worlds” have the amazing property that one can travel inside them and zoom into them infinitely, forever uncovering new details, like in a universe. By manipulating variables in the formula, this whole “universe” can change into totally different “universes”. So one is strikingly close to the concept behind my orchestral piece, the so-called Many-world theory, which deals with a very large, perhaps infinite number of parallel universes.