Dancing Cinema and Sound at the Gene Siskel Film Center | Bleader

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dancing Cinema and Sound at the Gene Siskel Film Center

Posted By on 04.13.11 at 05:00 PM

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Aberration of Light (Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, Olivia Block, 2010-11). Courtesy the artists.
  • Aberration of Light (Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, Olivia Block, 2010-11). Courtesy the artists.
In 2008 the SoSeditions label released an untitled collaboration between Chicago sound artist Olivia Block and New York experimental filmmakers Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder. Around the time it was released, I wrote on this blog about it: "[Block has] devised a process-based approach to parallel the one that created the visuals. Her collaborators used projected film as their source material, creating ghostly effects with puffs of steam or fog and the inherent artifacts of video recording; Block used what she calls the 'halos of static' generated when she subjected cheap phone pickups to the electromagnetic disturbances around her CD player and computer, adding digital effects, bits of prerecorded music, and lots of edits to shape a flowing stream of sound that constantly shifts in density and color."

Three years later I realize that, as impressive as the DVD is, it's an inferior documentation of what the filmmakers do, which is perform rather than simply screen their work. For one thing, the image on the DVD is small, and you're much better off experiencing the rich, shifting visual textures and the physicality of the celluloid on a big screen. More importantly, Gibson and Recoder use film projectors as instruments, in a sense. "The duo uses a system of film loops, crystals, and hand gestures to bend, reflect, and refract the projector's beam, recasting the theatrical space of the cinema into a unique medium for sculpting light," says a blurb about their new collaboration with Block, Aberration of Light: Dark Chamber Disclosure, which happens Thursday night as part of the Conversations at the Edge series at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

I have no idea what the visual component of the performance will be like, but Block is one of Chicago's greatest talents—if you think sound art is dry or archly modernist, you haven't heard her. According to Conversations at the Edge programmer Amy Beste, Block has rehearsed and worked out the acoustics of the theater three times in preparation for Thursday evening's event. Last fall she performed with Gibson and Recoder at International House in Philadelphia, and you can watch some clips of the collaboration on the venue's website.

Today's playlist:

Rolf Julius, Music For the Ears (Western Vinyl)
Eri Yamamoto Trio, In Each Day, Something Good (Aum Fidelity)
Gonjasufi, A Sufi & a Killer (Warp)
Eivind Aarset & the Sonic Codex Orchestra, Live Extracts (Jazzland)
Various artists, Miliki Music: Society Sounds of 60's Lagos (Re-Grooved) (Mulatta)

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