Guido van der Werve, 2009

Number twelve, variations on a theme

Number twelve, variations on a theme intertwines chess moves, compositional strategies, and thoughts on infinity and mathematical probability to create a complex filmic experiment. Over the course of 40 minutes, Guido van der Werve looks at the clash of the transitive and the definitive. How to play all possible chess moves? How to count all the stars? How to perfectly tune a piano? Life will always be too short to complete only one of these tasks.

The slow and elegiac score van der Werve composed on a chess piano—an instrument of his own invention—is divided into three movements: “opening,” “middlegame,” and “endgame.” The first movement shows the artist playing chess in the Marshall Chess Club in New York; the second follows him through an archaic landscape to the top of Mount St. Helens, an active volcano, to count the stars; and in the third, van der Werve is seen standing next to a hut he built directly in the San Andreas Fault, one of the tectonically most active places on earth. A structural and compositional experiment, Number twelve is intellectually challenging and—with its combination of melancholic strings and breathtaking aerial shots—emotionally moving.


Number twelve, variations on a theme
Guido van der Werve
1 channel video, color video, stereo audio
1920px x 1080px, 40'

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