/ elmer's story




An archive, and with it a story, coincidentally fell into our hands this fall. One of the rooms in Kanalvillan had to be evacuated because the long-time tenant had disappeared and stopped paying the rent. Going through the left-behind stuff we slowly revealed a tragic story beginning in prehistoric times on the other side of the world, continuing to this day here in Dalsland.

The man who rented the room was called Elmer, and his mother Inga was the switchboard operator in Långbron in the 30's. Some of the older people maybe remember hearing about the strange woman who mad with bereavement drowned herself in Laxsjön, having lost her husband and daughter in mysterious circumstances on the same lake two years earlier. Left behind was Elmer with his mothers curious collections. Inga had tried to find out what had happened to her loved ones, and Elmer now continued the investigations, but with one additional query: why had she abandoned him, the one still alive?

Now we're picking up where Elmer left off. Much is still unclear, but this is what we know so far:

Several thousand years ago, in prehistoric times, deep down in the salty ocean, there lived a creature with exceptional sensitivity to soundwaves and an insatiable longing for beauty. One day it accidentally dragged a ship with an ongoing wedding down in the depths. A ship which in it's very materia had absorbed the enchanting music played by the wedding orchestra. A ship that subsequently sings.

Dozing happily with the ship in tender embrace the creature floats with the streams, gets stuck in the northbound ice and after thousands of years melts out in Laxsjön. The ship starts to fall apart and bit by bit gets away from the creatures loving grip to be flushed ashore downstream along the canal. The creature wakes up to the silence of the missing ship. Lost, lonely and in despair it rambles around on the floor of the shallow puddle that is Laxsjön, searching for pieces of its beloved boat.

Almost a century ago, an extraodinarily communicatively gifted swithboard operator calls on her loved ones to come home. But they do not come. Her husband and daughter has disappeared on Laxsjön in the newly built boat. A boat made from a very special kind of wood flushed ashore and found in locks over the years. The operator is devastated. She devotes her time and her unusual talents to find out what happened. She constructs instruments, decodes the chatter of the birds and the noise from the universe, records incoming signals and compiles calculations. She listens to everything, but says nothing. Except to the remaining son, and sometimes the raven.

Not so long ago, just last year, an old man gets off the railbus at Långbron. He has a suitcase with the NASA logotype, and carries it across the road and enters Kanalvillan. He walks up to a room filled with books, documents, curious objects, instruments and notes, and closes the door. The old man has come here every summer for 50 years to pursue the investigations once begun by his mothesus.

The room has a window, and outside the window is a tree. A boy climbes the tree and sits down in the window frame. He has brought a little wooden locomotive that he wants to show, because he knows the old man has one just like it. Startled, the old man hurries up to his typewriter and starts telling a story while at the same time typing it down. It is as new to the boy as to the old man, and yet it somehow seems familliar: ”Several thousand years ago, in prehistoric times, deep down in the salty ocean, there lived a creature with exceptional sensitivity to soundwaves and an insatiable longing for beauty...”


© Copyright 2015; Björn Fast Nagell

and Annika Wahlström.

The project is supported by Mötesplats Steneby,

HDK school of design and crafts, University of Gothenburg,

"There is a frequency to everything in the world. Every thing sings.

Waves meet and merge and affect each other."