How does one recount the indescribable?
I am tasked with just that after witnessing Interlocutors: A Live Video and Music Experience!, held at Spaces art gallery. Gathered in a small room in the back of the gallery, the packed house saw people turned away at the door, with those inside sitting knocked kneed in makeshift rows of folding chairs eagerly anticipating the unknown. The Celluloid Liberation Orchestra performed the live score to George Melies 1904 French classic, The Impossible Voyage, and an obscure 1920’s surrealist work by Germaine Dulac called, The Seashell and the Clergyman; a film which could still be considered risqué by the modern up-tights of our own time. Rising and falling from bustling jazz to dissonance and swirling calamity, perhaps Celluloid Liberation‘s most telling accomplishment was not only in effectively in slipping into the tapestry of the bizarre cinema, but in bringing it to a new level of escapism.
A poor floor layout by the gallery left a third of the audience unable to view the first film unobstructed. Shifting the projection onto a different wall twisted the frame and fuzzed the focus. The screen was a slanted trapezoid with its edges bending around the corner of the wall. At any other presentation this would be a joke, or at least a reason to gripe. Forcing everything into a Dutch angle, here, it only enhanced the ominous and claustrophobic footage and made for that much more of a unique experience. The effects the original filmmakers employed in portraying concepts like lingering doubt, bloodlust, or the weight of time were at times both jarring and urbane. Like a haunting dream, it would be impossible for me to effectively relay the personal interpretation I took away from the short films. Suffice to say, they were both marvelously captivating.
If the first act was a brooding, black and white psychodrama, the second act was a psychedelic fever dream. The live music of both the Silence Quartet and the duo of Mike Crooker and Ron Pyrosonic Slabe joined the live video presentation by Kasumi, an accomplished and challenging filmmaker. Together, the outfits provided the score to a bewildering and hypnotic montage of day-glo imagery that proved a likely treatise of a “bad trip”. While at times as nondescript as the Illuminati pyramid eye projecting lightning beams for five minutes, there were just as many transcendent moments. The slow, color-drenched footage of random people loading a revolver and putting it to their head, unfolding their arms and jumping into the darkness of space, pointing to sky in rapt amazement, played on a loop, swelling into a truly meditative experience with a soundtrack that was more rock and electronically inclined than the night’s first act. Gradually throughout the performance snatches of David Bowie lyrics were interpolated. Out of context and unadorned, the lines offered new weight to the footage while left simply jangling in the background. The show concluded with Kasumi’s crescendo of images running along an unexpected and truly celebratory rendition by both bands of Bowie’s, Memory of a Free Festival.
Truly a one-of-a-kind night and performance, Interlocutors was a fascinating fusion of avant garde cinema, video manipulation and music that was daring and exploratory.
(Photos: Sandy Woodthorpe)