Artist Svavar Jonatansson, from Academy Award winning Film Chasing Ice, collaborates with Utah composers Devin Maxwell and Matthew Durant to bring Utah’s stunning landscapes to life with the dialogue and interplay of live music and video.
The collaboration has resulted in four short films composed of tens of thousands of still photographs from four areas of Utah: Salt Flats (I-80), Arches National Park (Arches Scenic Drive), Capitol Reef (State Route 24) and Oljato Road. Each film has an original score bringing the videos to life with the dialogue and interplay between the two art forms. The intent is to offer a unique presentation of these places that invites the audience to view them through their own lens of experience, story and identity.
Svavar Jónatansson (b.1981) works in various mediums, including photography, video, radio and written word. From 2000-2007 his focus was on documentary and street photography through private projects in his home country of Iceland and while travelling abroad. The Inland/Outland project followed and has since 2010 been exhibited in aceartinc. gallery in Winnipeg (2010), Reykjavik City Hall (2010) and Reykjavik museum of photography (2013). While self taught in photography, Jónatansson has a bachelor degree in sociology and a masters degree in cultural studies from the University of Iceland. Since 2005 he has worked with, and been influenced by, the photographer James Balog on his Extreme Ice Survey, which featured in the documentary Chasing Ice (2012). Jónatansson hosts and produces weekly radio shows on Icelandic Public Radio (RÚV).
The Inland/Outland project is an exploration of landscape through the medium of photography, video and music. The project traces its historical ancestry to a wide variety of sources, reaching back to the earliest days of photography when experiments with time-lapse and stop motion photography set the tone for the moving image. The project has links to the medium of photography and experimental video, and these links traverse different periods of history, artists, movements and ideas about landscape, raising questions about how we perceive it historically. In light of the ever growing reach of photographic documentation of the landscape, be it by the public, artists or corporations mapping the world visually, questions about how landscape is perceived and experienced become more relevant. Through its multidisciplinary approach, the Inland/Outland project offers a variety of perceptions of the landscape, leaving the questions to the viewer.
Composer Devin Maxwell’s chamber music has been described as “amiably strident…clusters hammered insistently” by the New York Times and his orchestral work “a beautiful puzzle, with clusters fitting between plucks and pedals that build pyramid melodies” by the American Record Guide. His 2013 collaboration with choreographer Jessica Gaynor received a Commissioning Music/New Music USA grant and he has recently been commissioned by mmm…, Bent Frequency, Ensemble Dedalus (Paris), and the Deer Valley Music Festival Emerging Quartets and Composers Program for the Skyros Quartet.
Awards include the Nief-Norf Composition Prize, the Best Experimental Film (Untitled 17 presented with Prelinger Archive found footage) at the New York Independent Film Festival, score for best short film (Found) at the NYIIF, and an honorable mention at the American Composer’s Orchestra 2013 Underwood Readings. His forcefully stark chamber work, PH1, is critically examined by Eldritch Priest in the book Boring, Formless Nonsense; Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure, and in the 2012 journal Postmodern Culture. An active collaborator, he has produced successful projects with choreographer Jessica Gaynor Dance, filmmaker Rollin Hunt, graphic designer Phillip Niemeyer, photographer Svavar Jónatansson, clarinetist Katie Porter, and violist/songwriter Anni Rossi.
Maxwell is a graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, California Institute of the Arts Composer/Performer, and is currently completing a Ph.D. in music composition at the University of Utah where he received the Leroy Robertson Scholarship for excellent work and a Graduate Research Fellowship to compose for orchestra and electronics. His music is published by Good Child Music and Éditions musique SISYPHE.
Matthew Durrant’s music has been performed throughout the United States at festivals, conferences, and recitals. His style is very melodic and can be thought of as neo-tonal. While his music is generally triadic in nature, its richness is expanded by borrowing from beyond the diatonic realm and employing tonality in unconventional ways.
Having lived his entire life in the western US, the majestic landscapes and history of the region (especially Utah and Idaho) often serve as inspiration for Matthew’s music. Recently he has collaborated with Icelandic photographer Svavar Jonatansson, providing the music for a unique film project depicting the stunning red rock landscapes of southern Utah. In addition to this he has also worked with the Natural History Museum of Utah, helping them tell the story of Utah’s natural and cultural heritage through music.
Matthew holds bachelor’s degrees in composition and piano performance from Boise State University and a master’s degree in composition from the University of Utah. He currently teaches undergraduate theory and ear training as a teaching assistant and PhD candidate at the University of Utah. Some of his works are published through Cherry Classics and TrevCo Music Publishing.
When he is not working on music he is outdoors hiking and climbing mountains or spending time with his family. Matthew is from Preston, Idaho and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and two daughters.