Pulse, a looped time lapse film of just over four minutes, depicts the burning of a defunct handmade beehive to ashes. The film has an environmental starting point: destruction by fire is the best way to treat beehives inflicted by American Foul Brood disease, currently prevalent in the Western Cape region of South Africa. Fire is also a contemporary vector of social protest.

The film’s soundtrack is a digital composition I created by sculpting replica bullroarers, a traditional San instrument, from another defunct beehive and performing their sounds. Bullroarers were used to attract and land swarms of bees in order to gather honey from their nests. They were also instruments of ritual and communication. The visceral, breath-like composition coalesces at one point towards the end, and then dissipates. The origins of the soundtrack are in an earlier installation, ‘Honey Hunters’).

The work was created outside my studio at an industrial park, positioned on a defunct railway track just before the lines switch direction. A series of partner charcoal drawings (‘Nest i-x’) are created out of the ashes of the hive’s burn.

Acknowledgements: Photographer Daleen Nel Hall took the time lapse photographs.
Thanks to Hennie Prinsloo for donating the defunct beehives, which were damaged following a farm fire.
Thanks to Brendon Bussy for recording the bullroarer performances.
Thanks to Bruce Arnott for directing me to the Harald Pager archives.

This body of work was exhibited at the AVA Gallery’s new media room in Cape Town, from 27 September 2017.

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