SALUTEM: Music by Laura Bowler, performed by The Marsyas Trio
— A temporal journey through the epochs of human history.



Commissioned by The Marsyas Trio, Salutem is a short film to accompany the musical score composed for them by Laura J. Bowler titled ‘Salutem’. The project was funded by the Arts Council England.

The musical score takes us on a journey through human history from the Stone Age to the present (Modern Age).

The project’s primary function is to provide a visual accompaniment to a live performance of the score. In addition, beyond the live incarnation of the film, it is meant to exist as a stand-alone work to be viewed at festival screenings and online platforms.

The film follows a female avatar through the historical epochs represented in the score. We are led by this avatar on a journey through five periods in human history, The Stone Age, Bronze Age, Middle Ages, Industrial Revolution and Modern Age. The feminine avatar provides a visual means to connect the audience with the emotional qualities and narrative driven by the music. The score was written by a woman and performed by three classically trained female musicians. When listening to the music, I imagined it to tell the tale of womanhood through the ages, considering it imperative that the visual lead, the avatar, reflect a female account of humanity’s journey through time.

The film was shot using analogue and digital filmmaking processes. A system of mark-making techniques on the surface of the celluloid film was devised to represent each historical period acted out by the female avatar. Various tools were employed to mark the film drawing a tangible link between its surface and the images it contained. For example, a flint tool was used to scratch and draw glyphs across the surface of the footage shoot for the ‘Stone Age’ sequence of the film.

As a follow-on from this project, The Marsyas Trio and I have devised a one-day audio-visual workshop exploring the non-traditional filmmaking, composing and performance technics involved in the creation of ‘Salutem’. The workshop teaches students how to create a graphic score enabling them to visualise and communicate their sonic intent, how to manipulate traditional instruments such as the cello, piano and flute to create unconventional sounds and how to mark-make on film, generating a visual accompaniment to the music they produce over the course of the day’s workshop. The final result is a series of short films combining all of the above-mentioned (AV) techniques. These are then screened and discussed at the end of the workshop. Over the past few years, we have rolled this workshop out to inner-city schools in London and across the UK.

Salutem was composed in 2014, and funded by the Britten-Pears Foundation. Recorded on 15 April 2018 at the Boilerhouse, Royal Holloway University of London.

Flute – Helen Vidovich; Cello – Valerie Welbanks; Piano – Zubin Kanga.

Film production was funded in 2020 by the Arts Council England.

Executive Producers: Olga Stezhko, Helen Vidovich & Valerie Welbanks

Starring: Camille Krieg