Hearsay of the Soul is film director Werner Herzog's first video art installation. Projected on three adjacent walls and eighteen minutes in length, the five-channel video combines selected landscape etchings by Hercules Segers (Dutch, about 1589–about 1638) with the contemporary avant-garde music of composer/cellist Ernst Reijseger (Dutch, born 1954). The juxtaposition of Segers's lush prints of enigmatic vistas with Reijseger's expressive and experimental music results in a richly layered work that is both intimate and epic.
When originally commissioned to create a work for the 2012 Whitney Biennial (an exhibition of contemporary American art in New York), Herzog was initially reluctant, claiming "I'm not an artist. I'm a soldier." Recently acquired by the Getty Museum, the work represents a growing interest in time-based media.
Hearsay of the Soul continues the cinematic concerns—evocative landscapes, sensuous experiences—that are hallmarks of Herzog's prior films and documentaries. Known primarily as a film director, Herzog favors an approach that invites introspection and rapt attention over strictly linear storytelling. He utilizes techniques that heighten perception and draw attention to the creative act. He has made over 50 films since the 1960s, ranging from Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) to the lyrical documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010). Hearsay of the Soul, as with Herzog's other work, blurs the lines between story, a poetic sense of place and a journey across time.