Diabolus, 2001, Giardini di Castello, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, Video

Finnbogi Pétursson (b. 1959), the artist representing Iceland in the
Giardini di Castello will be building a large square wooden tunnel,
approx. 2 metres high and 16 metres long. It will protrude from the 
entrance of the Icelandic pavilion. At the entrance the tunnel is 
approx. 2.50 metres, but narrows down towards the other end where 
it finishes in a 50 cm wide square organ pipe, 2.50 metres  high and 
60cm deep.

 Inside, and under the pipe, a low frequency loudspeaker is placed which
 produces the first tone at 61.8 Hz faded up in 30 seconds. At the hight of
its pitch it triggers an air pump which blows into the pipe and creates
the second tone at 44.8 Hz. Together the two tones engender a heavy
interference wave of 17Hz; which used to be referred to as a Diabolus in

The name of the work is Diabolus, and the two sinus tones delivered
through the tunnel are produced with the latest equipment available. 
Consequently the work relates to two opposed periods; the contemporary 
world of today when all taboos are transgressed in the name of research 
and technology; and the Middle Ages when the tonal combination called 
la Quinte-du-loup was proscribed from the ritual.

What intrigues Pétursson is the historical fact that a relatively simple
and innocent tonal combination, which through the centuries formed the
basis of Icelandic traditional singing, was banned only because of the
slight difficulty singers encounter when they have to bridge the tritone
of an enlarged fourth. He wonders how little it took to control expression,
regulate the artist´s freedom of action and prohibit all irregularities in
making of art.

Hence, everything which art today stands for might have been blacklisted
during the Middle Ages as an expression of pure blasphemy. Pétursson is
not interested in disturbing the peace of the clergymen who in the early
centuries of Christianity came to the conclusion that a certain music was
diabolical. With his monumental sound work he would rather have us reflect
on the state of contemporary art and ask ourselves whether by any
misfortune we might again fall for the idea that only the beautiful and
harmonious is ideologically correct. What a pity it would be for all those
who have created original art with wonderfully discordant means.

(Halldór Björn Runólfsson)