‘Envelope’ at the Institute
This was the third session in this film and live music collaboration at the Institute and the premise deviated slightly- as it does each time- with the musicians not seeing the films until the same time as the audience and then having to improvise a live score. This time was also different in that the four films on show were the work of Institute founder Gavin Evans with three of them having been recorded and edited in the preceding week lending proceedings a sense of spontaneity and freshness. Furthermore it was also an especially intriguing event for me as I was the subject matter of one of the new films on show so adding to the spontaneity was the fact I hadn’t seen any of my own footage before this night.
The musicians on hand to interpret the images on the screen this time were Freddy Tanner and ‘Jazz Musician of 2011’ Graeme Stephen. As stated before they also hadn’t seen any of the films before-excepting perhaps ‘Fume’ which was shown several weeks previously- so they were as much in the dark as everyone else.
The first film up was my own performance titled simply ‘Sadie’. Whilst it is hard to review yourself objectively I will only observe that Evans managed to successfully capture the essence of my rumoured flirtatious mischievousness, narcissistic flamboyance and chutzpah. There was also the right amount of pouting and tossing of hair, both of which I have been known to do on occasion. I have now decided after seeing the film that I shall attempt the latter two in slow motion from now on as it is preferable to be observed in this fashion. The musical accompaniment somehow adeptly managed to interpret all of these facets- as well as being suitably wilfully provocative,sensuous and playful- with Tanner up first lending his unique musical skills followed by Stephen who managed to capture the same outcome but in a different fashion.
The second film was ‘Lease of Life’ and featured Peter Miller as its star. It was a far starker work and was powerful, raw and naked in both its ambitions and achievements. It was at times melancholic and at others forceful almost to the point of aggression, as if the subject were in the throes of a fiercely shamanistic ritual intent on exorcising all demons, but always totally riveting and absorbing. The music for this selection was suitably rawer and more electrifying, building at times to a frenzy which perfectly captured the visions unfolding on the screen.
Third film up was ‘?’ with John Kamikaze as the subject. It focussed firmly on his corporeal state, in particular his many tattoos and piercings. It was a much more studied approach to the body with his face only being revealed in the final frames. Like the previous two showings the musical interpretations by both musicians were adroit in their perceptions lending the visuals a dynamic hard to imagine whilst watching it in silent repose.
Fourth film up for the evening was ‘Fume’ Evans’s seductive homage to smoking which would throw the anti-smoking lobby into an apoplectic fit at the glamorization of their unhealthy nemesis. It furled and unfurled along to languorous and dreamy scores and at one point during the interpretation by Stephens it sounded as if his guitar was actually coughing or choking in synchronization within the haze of smoke.
The four films were then shown again with accompaniment by both musicians together and I must admit I thought that these interpretations were amongst the best of the evening although this may have been down to some ideas already fixed in my mind by previous scores already heard so far.
Another highly successful night for the Institute then and I look forward to the next edition and it will be interesting to see what deviations will introduce to keep pushing the envelope forward, forcing the ideology of the evening to continue being as fresh and vital as it has been thus far.