During my research for my IHME Project 2010 I became very interested in a particular tradition of Finnish lullabies, which are known asTuonela lullabies. The place Tuonela is a metaphor for death and is a common theme in many of these lullabies. In this tradition the lullabies are divided between mourning songs where the death of the child is anticipated because of domestic hardship or threat songs where the child is threatened with violence or death if he or she does not go to sleep. For the main public project I have chosen to record one of the familiar Finnish lullabies Sydämeni Laulu (Song of My Heart) and have it placed in the very public context of the South Hall of Helsinki’s Central Railway Station. The South Hall of the Railway Station is a majestic and generous space, the light streams through the arched windows creating dramatic silhouettes against the bright marble floor. The high vaulted elipsoid ceiling that encloses the space creates a very special acoustic. In this project I want to contrast the intimacy of the lullaby with the hustle and movement of the most traversed public building in Finland, where over 200,000 people pass through every day. Recordings of my own voice singing Sydämeni laulu (Song of My Heart) will be heard through special hypersonic speakers that will hone the sound to points on either sides of the vaulted ceiling, creating a ‘whispering gallery’ effect from above. The sound of disembodied voices may suggest a spectral or ethereal presence that is echoed in the words of the song.
For the initial IHME edition I recorded a series of lullabies from cult horror films and had them play to a black screen of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) after closedown. The sinister effect my disembodied voice might have when experienced late at night after closedown would dramatize these themes while evoking memory and heightening one’s own sense of self. In ‘The Wicker Man’ (Robin Hardy, 1973) the main protagonist, Police Sergeant Howie, is dressed, anointed and sung to before he is burned in a ritual sacrifice. The other piece I recorded is the theme tune to the horror film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (Roman Polanski, 1968). In this film´s opening credits that main actress Mia Farrow’s voice can be heard humming a lullaby to her as yet unborn baby.