Under the direction of The Light Surgeons founder and director Christopher Thomas Allen, this new performing arts commission will create a ground breaking audiovisual performance that brings together a unique collaboration of different visual artists and musical talents. Creating a cross-disciplinary project that will fuse documentary film making, live and electronic music, animation and motion graphics with cutting edge digital video performance tools.
Production stage 1:
The project began by gathering documentary narratives that explore the idea of truth and myth. Using EMPAC’s hometown of Troy as a starting point, Light Surgeons Allen and Rainbow set out to investigated the story of Uncle Sam Wilson.
Uncle Sam has become central to Troy’s heritage and the local people have fought to secure his history from other towns and states that have wished to claim his resting place. He has been canonized into an icon and is how an international symbol for America.
Through a series of interviews with local Trojans during the Uncle Sam’s Day Parade, we uncover his many meanings and reveal their relationship to the man and the myth. Some see him as a man of thrift, a hero of capitalism, but he is also a figurehead for the military and a symbol for the state and the taxman. He provokes a range of different emotions and a deep sense of patriotism in many. His story reveals a sense of how “history” is created and can become hijacked for a cause or political ideal.
There is an almost religious patriotism that seems to surround iconic symbols like Uncle Sam and this theme was further explored by visiting ground zero on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Throughout the day we gathered interviews with a cross range of people who had congregated at the memorial service to pay their respects. Some came to voice their support of the subsequent “war on terror” while others came to protest and campaign for an investigation into the events of 9/11. This defining moment of the new century has already become a mythical event and the boundaries between historical fact and political belief are blurred in a stormy debate.
Production stage 2:
This documentary narrative will now be edited and used to provoke a response in further interviews gathered during a road trip around the state of New York . Through a series of call and responses, the organic nature of a new cipher will develop. This process will be used to generate new threads of investigation.
We intend to investigate myth further through a local Native American tribe, conducting interviews and recordings that will explore their oral traditions of music and storytelling.
A series of interviews providing a more academic perspective on the subjects of linguistics and biology will seek out parallels in the sciences, looking at areas such as neural structures and the behavior of viral organisms.
These very different documentary narratives will then be interwoven with a selection of recorded lyrical collaborations with local Hip-Hop MC’s, songwriters and poets. All collaborating artists will be asked to retort to the various themes gathered during our documentary investigations, with the aim of creating further debate and blurring the boundaries between truth and fiction.
The musical score for the final performance will be generated through a series of recorded AV sessions in New York City. A process of musical consequences will bring a collection of musicians from different backgrounds together. Taking its inspiration from the Dadaist game of exquisite corpse, each individual recorded during a session will be replayed and used to spark off a reaction in the next participant.
This process of recording reaction and responds will be used to generate new connections and develop a form of virtual jamming. The overall musical approach will seek to combine classical, folk and electronic instruments with modern production aesthetics to explore this concept converging languages.
These recorded jam sessions, and spoken word interviews will then to digitally re-mixed and arranged into a series of AV tracks. Each AV track will then be broken into a family of elements that will then be distributed across several different playback mediums for live improvisation.
Final live performance:
(excerpt from APB - All points Between Performance 2001)
An orchestra of DVD turntablists will reconstruct these studio arrangements as live AV tracks which will be presented as a multi-screen stage show. This stage show will premier at EMPAC in the fall and will then tour internationally. We also hope to incorporate several live musicians and a guest lyricist into the shows that tour in US.
Another vital aspect of the project will be the development of a bespoke new piece of live video performance software in collaboration with pioneering software developers VIDVOX.
We also hope to publish this project as a DVD at some point in the near future.