Tag: avant garde
Several months back, Emma Sterling and I were invited by Sophie Hyde of Closer Productions in Adelaide to join a project out of Flinders Medical Centre’s Arts in Health program. The project entitled Heartsong was inspired by the experiences and thoughts of patients and their carers on the Cardiac Care Unit. Fittingly, the resulting multimedia performance was to premiere in an adjoining space, and did so last week.
The project’s video design task was almost an open brief when we were first introduced, though other elements of the performance had been roughly hewn. A text had been assembled by the project’s producer, Cheryl Pickering, constructed from patient and staff testimonials. Accomplished musicians Richard Chew (keyboards) and Ian Dixon (flugelhorn) were involved, and successfully plotted an improvised musical course which supported the text with colour and emotion. A large scale sculpture of a human heart (approximately six feet tall) was constructed by Diwani Oak, and then lit by Emma Sterling and myself, using a combination of projected and LED rope lighting. Diwani also produced several screen-printed and hand-crafted hangings which also adorned the space, and provided a canvas for the thematically connected poetry of Ian Gibbins to feature on.
Emma Sterling’s and my greater commitment though was the production and presentation of video and animated content to harmonize with Heartsong’s other elements. We called upon many of the approaches we used to produce our first documentary film ‘A Shift in Perception‘ back in 2006 and set about crafting stop-motion animations, moving textural sequences, lifting public domain found footage from The Internet Archive, and preparing them all for live delivery.
When audience members enter the Heartsong space, they are first drawn to Diwani’s light sculpture, which sits as the work’s hearth. An animated rendition of it also rotates on video screens, while another projection presents a faithful recording of a medical heart monitor read-out. When the improvised music begins, pre-recorded voices recall the words of patients and nurses alike, and lead the audience through the patient’s journey- from symptoms and hospital admittance through care and recovery. In performance, my task is to react to the text and emotions presented by Richard and Ian with improvised video, which I layer, blend and loop for the duration of the performance using Arkaos GrandVJ and a Korg NanoKontrol MIDI controller. The piece is designed to have a meditative, gentle and nurturing quality about it, and audience responses thus far have suggested we’re striking that chord.
The first performances of the work are behind us now, with only one remaining performance of our debut season remaining. On Friday, December 11th at the Royal Institution of Australia from 6-9pm, the installation will be open, with the performance occurring around 7pm. The performance runs for approximately 25 minutes, and will be followed by a panel discussion with the involved artists plus another artist also currently exhibiting at the RiAus, George Poonkin Khut.
For several years now, Adelaide’s Media Resource Centre has been running a music production initiative for emerging screen composers called Silent Remasters. After applying for the privilege of performing an original live re-score of a silent movie classic in two previous years, it appears third time’s the charm and Supermarket is on this year’s recipient list. Now I am faced with the equally daunting and exhilerating task of composing and preparing a brand-spanking new electronic score for the horror classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari… ready for performance in less than three weeks!
I was first introduced to Robert Wiene‘s psychological thriller some years ago through a friend with obscure and fascinating taste. Produced in 1920, the film struck me with its dramatic use of light and shadow and the obvious influence of expressionistic painting in the often oblique and wild set designs. For a film of its age, its pace is a little slow but it holds up much better than the majority of works of its age. The likes of Rob Zombie, Tim Burton and countless other artists (past and present) have drawn direct influence from this film and it’s a pleasure to be given the chance to work directly with such a precious piece of cinema’s history. As an exploration of madness and monstrosity, the film brought to light themes that have continued to sustain the horror and thriller genres through decades of permutations.
My proposal for the new soundtrack to the film includes a variety of instrumentation- no honky tonk pianos or string ensembles in sight. A sampler, microphone, delays & fx, an accordian, several synthesizers, some percussion and a theremin will all be put to work. I will be performing the score as Supermarket, though at this stage Emma Sterling (who usually manages the VJ’ing role in our regular audio-visual sets) will not be taking the stage. The film runs a length of 72 minutes, so I’ll be breaking the score into ‘themes’… remixing versions of arrangements at different instances during the film. A necessary design decision to make the task of fulfilling the brief achievable in the tight three weeks of allowed schedule.
Once I have some of the score recorded, Em and I will float a 30 second trailer online and give you all a taste of what lucky cinema-goers in Adelaide will be privvy to on the night of November 26th. The screening starts at 7.30pm, and there will be two short silent films preceding The Cabinet of Dr Caligari… La Folie du Docteur Tube (1915) and Windsor McKay’s Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: The Pet (1922). Windsor McKay is one of the great early pioneers of animated film, and both shorts promise to showcase some impressive special effects that place them far in advance of their years of production.
The Silent Remasters program runs for four nights of original performed re-scores over two weeks. Full details are available on the Mercury Cinema’s website.
Well, it’s finally ready to announce… the program for the premiere edition of Lateral Movement: Art & the Moving Image is ready to roll out the door! After consolidating the program earlier today, we have made the cinema screening listings available at the event’s official website, with further news on the foyer installations due for a further announcement between now and Saturday’s launch. What we can say is that the foyer will feature 6 independent screens with looping silent works, and a very special post-modern sculpture contributed to by many of the participating artists.
The cinema program is a juicy two brackets strong (each 45 minutes) and features a diverse range of works (aesthetically and conceptually) from around the world. Countries represented include France, Germany, the UK, Canada, the USA, Netherlands, Lithuania, Sweden and Australia. Every bit as exciting as the plurality of nations involved is the latest renovation of the Mercury Cinema’s projection room: the installation of a brand new 4K digital projector. Works will be presented in their best available resolutions, with the closing film, Lee Citron’s ‘Idiot Box’ (USA) presented in breath-taking high-definition for the first time publicly. Also an international premiere screening, the filmmaker will join the cinema audience via Skype from California for a Q&A session with us.
Emma Sterling and I watched approximately 150-200 films in order to bring you nothing short of the best available examples of the expansion of contemporary cinematic arts for this lovingly curated event. The works are author driven, produced independently, and mostly by artists with tiny teams, modest means and big visions. In short, this is a survey of cinema’s possibilities in the hands of artists- extending the familiar cinema experience well beyond the popular conventions of linear storytelling. Among the works you will experience animation, poetic film, abstract screen dances, found footage mash-ups and analog filmmaking throw-backs. VJ showcase pieces, visual music and even a video recording of a whimsical kinetic sculpture feature. If you yearn for more art in cinema, or more cinema in your art, herein lies the potion!
For those in Adelaide (or willing to travel) the session is $10/$12 to attend, and if you send an email to my partner Emma Sterling (mentioning the name of this blog) we are offering a special ‘2-for-1’ ticket offer. Doors open at 8pm (the installations will all be running in the foyer) and the first cinema set starts at 8.30pm. Drop Em a line now, and phone a friend to share the good news! See you on Monday night…