Machinic propositions - narrative interaction between sound and image

Henrik Frisk (PhD) - Professor of music


The duo Mongrel, consisting of Anders Elberling and Henrik Frisk have worked together for several years on numerous audio/visual projects. The overarching ambition is to critically examine the nature of the relation between audio and video. Their works have been performed in United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, Germany, Vietnam and Lithuania.

Il se tourna (2013)

The experimental attitude

There is a "need to approach artistic research from an experimental perspective, not as a stylistic measure but as a quality in the artistic aims. A core value in artistic research is, as far as we know it from our own work, the possibility to amplify artistic processes that aim at creating a change in one’s own practice, a change that, when it is described and thoroughly documented, can effectively communicate new knowledge."

Frisk, H., & Östersjö, S., Beyond validity: claiming the legacy of the artist-researcher, Swedish Journal of Music Research, 2013(), 41–63 (2013).

The traditional notion of the work

"These perspectives reveal music to be a medium that makes mutable some of the central dualisms of Western metaphysics: the separation of subject from object, authentic from artificial, present from past, individual from collectivity. Routinely, as I have indicated, music forms hybrids and transitions between these ‘pure’ states. In the face of such complexities, it is unhelpful to divide the study of music itself from the study of its social, technological and temporal forms."

Born, G., On musical mediation: ontology, technology and creativity, Twentieth century music, 2(1), 7–36 (2005).

Machinic propositions

Machinic propositions, is simultaneously an artistic project and an attempt to critically examine Deleuze and Guattari’s theorems of deterritorialization as found in chapter seven and ten of their seminal work A Thousand Plateaus.

(Deleuze and Guattari, 1980)


Our working process is, like most other artistic process, situated in our personal conditions and flaws but in Machinic Propositions we specifically use them to gain access to the ability to stammer in language while avoiding it in speech, metaphorically speaking.

Theorem two

"The fastest of two elements or movements of deterritorialization is not necessarily the most intense or most deterritorialized." (Deleuze and Guattari, 1980, p. 193)

Live session

Image illiterates

"Sound and image are essentially different, they operate in different dimensions. What we uncovered, however, was that the solution lies rather in the attempt to move away from trying to synchronize the perception of sound and video, and instead focus on common processes that bind the elements together."

project diary, March 11, 2015


Machinic propositions

Artistic method


Artistic method


Artistic method


Artistic method


Artistic method


Artistic method


Artistic method


Composition and improvisation

Performing and composing are different but complementing modalities


Improvisation as method

  • A largely conceptual mode of working ends in an improvisation
  • The result may be satisfying from a performing point of view
  • Looking back at it, however, additional edits are needed, often at the level of synchronization

The improvisation dynamic

Perhaps self evidently, the context of improvisation appears to require the performance, and the act of listening/watching detached from the performance require the composition.

The rhizome

“a map and not a tracing”

(Deleuze and Guattari, 1980, p. 13)

Mapping the patterns we are creating, our individual as well as each other’s, is a process that may be seen as the attempt to reduce the number of possibilities in our project, while at the same time attempt to increase the number of possible connections.

Conceptual deduction

"Benjamin suggests the practice of philosophy is not the conceptual deduction (deduction into concepts) of research but is also somewhat distinct from the metaphorical determinateness […] in the artwork"

Rrenban, M., Wild, unforgettable philosophy: in early works of walter benjamin (2005), : Lexington Books.

  • start with a general story or concept that we explore together
  • dissect and analyze it
  • create a conceptual framework (Olofsson, 2018, p.199-201)
  • improvise

Media and intermediality

"there is a strong tendency towards treating a medium as a medium, or an art form as one form of art, only when certain qualitative aspects can be identified"

Elleström, L., The modalities of media: a model for understanding intermedial relations, In L. Elleström (Eds.), Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality (pp. ) (2010). : Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Self referentiality

Contributing "to the self-referentiality of digital art is the emphasis artists put on the very process involved in producing art by more or less smoothly integrating the various media into an intermedial whole."

Ljungberg, C., Intermedial strategies in multimedia art, In L. Elleström (Eds.), Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality (pp. 90) (2010). : Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Becoming composition


the editing is mainly concerned with the intermedial relations between the sound and the video rather than the individual parts.


  • The interaction between conceptual development and deduction, the construction of conceptual frameworks and the relation between improvisation and composition are central aspects for us.
  • The narrative interaction between sound and image grows out of this interaction
  • The editing of the material is based on the structure of the material rather than the respective media


  • Musicians commonly go beyond the purely musical realm and consider aspects such as
    • the interactive potential in the sociopolitical realm
    • the differences between the modes of listening to the development of material
    • the complimentary listening to the result of the same process
  • Partly, artistic research is the attempt to extract the implications of the knowledge development in those and similar processes
  • In this sense artistic research is transformative: It opens up new perspectives on the roles of the various agents in the field of performance such as the audience and the cultural and social contexts.


My hopes for a future development of artistic research practices are that the complexity of the various configurations of the acts of performance, composition and listening are continuously explored and reframed, and that the methodological development that is a result of these studies will be further evolved in interdisciplinary contexts.

Thank you.

Henrik Frisk