Life on Mars Revisited
Using the lost original footage of David Bowie in his hey day shot by the prolific rock ‘n’ roll photographer, Mick Rock, director Barney Clay teamed up with Rock to construct a video installation based on Bowie’s “Life On Mars” video. Passing off the dusty and antiquated original film and negatives to The Mill, one of the world’s premier post-production houses, they began to shape their new vision for the track, adding visual effects and experimental flair to the piece. The result is a stunning experience perfectly fit for the petite salle of the Gaité lyrique. This underground room, strangely isolated from all other exhibition spaces, is perfectly soundproof. It features a completely nude floor surrounded by four blank walls, onto which the new video work was projected.
A couple of weeks ago, it hosted a very moving digital installation by Matt Pyke that used the chequered pattern of the walls to create and multiply a series of small digital birds. This time, the small birds were replaced by a single figure, ubiquitous and overwhelming, with Bowie, the consummate pop-icon dressed as one of his most memorable characters, Ziggy Stardust, in the “Life On Mars” video. The performance is at once a video screening, a digital installation and a concert, lasting four minutes and accommodating only 20 guests at a time. The music and the video assault the viewer from every direction, perfectly in sync. And right when you start thinking the whole thing is just a panoramic mash-up, things get weird… and then even weirder. Bowie’s face is distorted, juxtaposed, saturated with light and colours, while the music consumes the room with a noisy-drony sound. Everything falls apart. And then comes back to normal. It feels both exhilarating and exhausting, just as if a natural catastrophe has occurred during a pop music video. The 360-degree aspect of the performance gives it a disconcerting twist, making you feel like you’re in a bumper car at a digital fair and someone else is behind the wheel.
“Convergenze parallele” (Parallel Convergences) is an audiovisual installation in which airborne dust particles passing through a beam of light are tracked, visualised, and sonified in real-time by a custom software system. The installation reacts to air movements in the exhibition space, allowing the viewer to see and hear the amplified movement of the dust particles. “Convergenze parallele” explores the poetic potential of revealing and transforming the imperceptible, and attempts to sensitise observers to the intangible energies and perpetual transformations of natural phenomena.
Spotlight, fans, video camera, projector, speakers, custom software system.
VAJP stands for “Visual Art Jam Performance,” and, true to its meaning, VAJP is an experimental series in which dance and choreography suddenly meet the graphic animations of Lumpens.
VAJP at the Gaîte lyrique :
Music: Boongas Beat
Artistic direction: Lumpens
Adobe Creative Suite, Macbook Pro OS X with Intel Core i7, audiovisual projection.
>Time Drop, also called Bissextiles, was originally designed for an exhibition surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Electronic Shadow, known for their highly-technical but seemingly simple creations, took the Olympic flag—specifically the intersecting five rings representing each inhabited continent—as their inspiration. Highlighting the physical link between the people of the world, while also speaking to the figurative closeness that today’s virtual networks enable, Time Drop uses the universal vibration of water and the stimulation of waves to manifest our interconnectivity. Their hybrid water sculpture releases drips of water into a basin whose ripples are augmented by projections and synchronised with sound. The installation starts off with one slow drip at a time, and eventually builds up to five, the patterns created becoming increasingly interspersed with smokey-looking aberrations and Pollock-esque “splatters.” Eventually, clock hands appear in the projections, transforming the fountain into a water clock.
Topologies is a multi-screen installation featuring a new instalment of the ongoing “Strata Series.” Following the trails of the previous series, pre-modernist paintings re-emerge from their centenary stillness, evolving into complex and mutable formations. Figurative paintings Las Meninas (D. Velazquez, 1656) and Immacolata Concezione (G. Tiepolo, 1767) become topographic maps producing new digital abstractions. Topologies renews an interest in the calculative, generative, and arrhythmical qualities that lie dormant behind the details of a masterpiece, organically transforming its recognisable reality into a colour-saturated, calculated fabrication.
Sound Design: Matthias Kispert
Software Development: Mauritius Seeger
Assistants: Kieran Gee Finch, Cai Matthews
Originally commissioned by onedotzero and The British Film Institute
The paintings are analysed through the use of custom software and the resulting data is then used to generate new abstract geometries. Created with Processing and Cinema4D.
Yoshi Sodeoka is the “closeted prog-rock fan” that we mentioned a few days ago. This video director borrowed the hypnotic and eloquent aesthetic of 1970s prog-rock concept albums covers for his lo-fi digital videos, lending a strange yet very contemporary feeling to the “psychedelia” concept. The videos displayed at the Gaîté Lyrique were taken from recently published DVDs by Sodeoka. The coloured visuals superimpose and melt into one another in an orgy of strange sensations and have been soundtracked by his friend Daron Murphy.
Passage Pt. 3 (2011): Music by Yoshi Sodeoka, Daron Murphy
Powercord VS Philter Phreak (2005): Music by Yoshi Sodeoka, Sean Rooney
Mesmerandom Part 1&2 (2005): Music by Yoshi Sodeoka
Violet Dark Spring of the Numinous Orb (2011): Music by Yoshi Sodeoka, Daron Murphy
Sibyl (2011): Music by Yoshi Sodeoka, Daron Murphy
After Effect, Logic, Macbook Pro, Panasonic WJ-MX10 video mixer, JVC VHS camcorder.
Ascenders & Descenders
Ascenders & Descenders is a typographic reinterpretation of Merce Cunningham’s dancing hands as recorded by OpenEnded Group for the Loops project. The piece cannot exist without the coarse words that attempt to make sense of Merce’s work. It is, in a sense, a Cunningham dance work reconstructed from textual deconstructions of other Cunningham dance works. Each finger has an associated excerpt from an article, review, or essay on Cunningham from the last five decades. These texts become the ink with which each finger manifests its movements. Each text is dynamically typeset in three dimensional space along the curves traced by his fingertips.The software keeps track of various movement parameters, which it uses to modulate aspects of the visualisation, such as letter size, camera position, angle, and zoom. Merce not only dances the dance, but becomes typesetter and cinematographer, conducting the audience’s view of the dance. In true Cunningham fashion, the piece forgoes narrative development for a series of chance operations that determine one of three views on the movements, as well the current finger being tracked.
Technology used: Custom software, realtime audiovisual projection, Macbook Pro featuring 2.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7