The film is available to watch here:
‘The Woe Trumpets’ is an audiovisual album that reimagines dystopian narratives by attempting to find hidden subtexts within the grand metaphor of apocalypse.
“In a timely yet awful coincidence, this project was conceived just months before the pandemic hit and rendered the album’s themes painfully non-abstract. The work began as a movie theatre installation experimenting with multichannel sound effects from disaster films, but early lockdowns pushed the project in another direction by necessity. What was originally intended to be a critical study of cinematic soundscapes has become something far more personal over the past two years. Though my initial impulse was to replicate a state of emergency within the music, amplifying all of the thunderclaps and kaiju roars of disaster cinema to the point of absurdity, the pandemic has swiftly shown the privilege inherent in this mode of representation. Accordingly, the priority has shifted from fascination with despair toward reimagination and repair. As the climate change activist Eric Holthaus writes, ‘Refusing to accept a dystopian future is a revolutionary act.’ This audiovisual album is a speculative sketch of what one form of refusal could look and sound like.”
Combining music by Mathoms (Matthew Tomkinson) with found footage compiled by Josh Hite, along with design by Bynh Ho and artwork by Krystyna Curtis, ‘The Woe Trumpets’ revisits films from the golden age of disaster cinema, finding new meanings in these blockbusters’ quieter moments and micro-expressions. In the video, characters’ mundane gestures are rechoreographed, emphasising specific typologies of looking and reacting. Small human moments replace scenes of cataclysm as the main cinematic event. By removing these sequences from their narrative context, Hite reappropriates and undermines disaster’s affective structure. Crisis is perpetually averted, sidelined, delayed, reduced to a hidden cause somewhere off-screen. What’s left is the before-and-after: the perpetual anxiety of anticipating the worst, and the processing that follows. The score channels these tensions in foreboding synthscapes, numbed-out ambiences, doom-metal overtures, atmospheric rumblings, and calming drones. Incorporating cinematic samples, field recordings, modular synths, and virtual instruments, the tracks draw upon different end-times scoring conventions, from dissonant choral requiems to otherworldly arpeggios and squalls of spectral noise. Compositionally, the album moves between stillness and shrillness, calmness and chaos, promise and peril. The result is an uneasy reflection on a year spent in constant fight or flight. Above all, ‘The Woe Trumpets’ is an attempt to move stagnant feelings, to rewind and rewrite the doom-scroll.