The Bosun’s Whistle


Project realised at A.A.R.K (Archipelago Art Residency Korpo)

A boatswain’s call, or “bosun’s whistle”, is a pipe-whistle used on naval ships by a boatswain. Historically the boatswain’s call was used to pass commands to the crew when the voice could not be heard over the sounds of the sea, especially in the situation of a storm.

Flying set pieces began appearing in theatres from the mid seventeenth century, (the first Venetian Opera House with stage machinery opened in 1637). Seventeenth century sailors often found employment rigging and flying in theatres. As on a ship, they used to communicate with each other through whistles, different whistles meaning commands. If an unexperimented actor happened to be walking across the stage whistling, he could find a set piece coming down from above. Since then it is said that it brings bad luck to whistle in the theatres.

Bosun’s whistle consists of a succession of video sequences of the same scene, shot during the three weeks residency at the Archipelago Artistic Residency in Korpo (Finland). The scene shows a stored wooden apparatus, usually used to maintain boats on shore during winters or fixing period. The stockpile, looking like a dismantled open air stage, was found as such in the shipyard beside the art residence. Each sequence lasts one minute and every next sequence is displayed after a vertical wiping transition of amateur editing programme and a Bosun’s pipe like whistle.