The Iron Rod (2013)
Video: HDV, stereo sound, 14:31
Installation: Single channel HD projection, stereo sound, custom paint and car seat
The Iron Rod is a short film that takes its structure from an altered Mormon hymn and the Persian classical music system, the Radif.
Iron is considered a divine material in both Mormon and Muslim belief systems and is a metaphor for the word of God, representing prosperity and structural stability. Both of these cultures share a history of nomadism. This heritage of transience is juxtaposed by the symbol of ever present discipline and mobile social control, a heavy structural material.
The film opens beneath Chicago’s elevated railroad, an iron network of stationary architecture enabling physical journeys and forging social connections. The narrative presents a confluence of historical trajectories. Orality in religious and musical tradition is addressed through casual conversation and the implementation of musical structure (the Radif) and song (The Iron Rod). The transience of oral tradition is juxtaposed with the desire for structure as the taxi journeys with its occupants to an unknown destination, and the hymn evolves from definite words to abstract musical form.
After the vocalization of the hymn, the composition develops through a framework of three improvisations based on the Dastgah Mahur modal progressions within the Radif. Ornamentation and modulation eventually render the original unrecognizable. The surrounding space of the above ground trains accompany the taxi and its’ passengers. Playback on the taxi stereo while the rear passenger seat remains empty realizes another transformation, without a sound-producing subject.