Photo: Henie Onstad Archive
During the opening weekend of the Mark Boyle exhibition in 1971, and the Winter Festival, the musician of the British band Soft Machine stepped onto the stage at Henie Onstad.
While the group from Canterbury played, the art couple Mark Boyle and Joan Hills projected film and lights to a screen behind the band inside Studio. The walls of the room were covered by installations made by Mark Boyle. The opening event for the Boyle exhibition was so popular that they had to arrange a second concert.
Soft Machine started out as a pop band but quickly got inspired by Albert Ayler and his free jazz, the cut-up technique by William Burroughs and the tape loops of Terry Riley. Already in 1966, the band started a collaboration with Boyle and Hills.
The couple’s multimedia shows typically included specially modified film, overhead- and soundscape machines that projected chemical water baths, hand-painted film, random double exposure and burning of celluloid. Boyle and Hills were not looking to create extended sensory experiences or synchronization, these were just random side effects of what they created. They did however want to turn away from the autonomous and virtuous role of the artist and instead let nature unfold - their involvement was about staring a process.
In 2018, when the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter presented the exhibition Boyle Family: Contemporary Archeology, the entire installation was recreated in the Prisma Rooms.
Words: Martine Hoff Jensen