Saturday, February 27, 2010

An Unexpected, Unique Collaboration: 3N6D

What did we experience? What did we expect?

Last night we went to see 3N6D at The Venue @ Mohaupt Block. To say I have been looking forward to this for quite some time is an understatement. But even I haven't been certain what to expect. According to their invitation:

Each night, beginning Friday, February, 26 and concluding Sunday, February 28, the four collaborating artists will present a 27-minute performance that blends live music and dance with photographic and video images. Recorded elements from the first night will be integrated with live performance the second night. The third night will layer highlights of the first two shows with the live performance finale.

The four artists are Semblesque Performance Company artistic director Jill Ellen Hall, Low guitarist Alan Sparhawk, photographer John Heino and filmmaker Chani Becker. Three Nights in Six Dimensions is an event conducted in a space of time in which even the collaborators may not know exactly what will happen. I will try to describe here a bit of my take.

Art and photography had been hung along the walls of the hallway into the main performance area, a number of Heino's select pieces on the right wall and Chani Becker's evocative paintings and drawings on the right. A small crowd gathered, mingled and then took their seats in the main hall.

The setup was much like an intimate theater, several rows of chairs facing two large screens. Off to the right there was a table with a lot of gear on it, a camera facing the center of the staging area, and a podium to the right. At 8:03, as announced, the lights were dimmed. I expected a welcome, an explanation or some kind of preparatory remarks, but that would probably be too much explanation and in retrospect I suspect the artists simply wanted the experience speak for itself.

The music slowly rose in volume, and hum-like echoing sound akin to a didgeridoo or something piped in electrically through a long culvert. The two screens received projections which only occasionally seemed directly connected if at all. Over the course of the 27 minute production there were flames licking dying embers, streams of melting ice and other assorted images which conveyed movement, intrigue, mental stimulation, curiosity.

In fact, the whole event stimulated curiosity. After the mood had been created by the music, Jill Ellen Hall entered the room, approached the stage (as defined by screens and seating) and dance/walked about, attired in the most bizarre array of costume and props. In left hand and long staff of seaweed like material, a silver box in her right, an umbrella of sorts, a white slicker rain coat, strange shoes, strange silver eyeglasses, and a comical expression. The range of elements left one wondering, what next?

The lighting was such that sharp shadows were cast against the left screen and an assortment of shapes, edges, designs were being captured by Heino, who remained off-stage to the right, snapping photos at various moments in the performance. The staff was set against the screen, the slicker jacket removed, various props utilized then set aside, new ones removed from the silver box, utilized and set aside. In short, it was 27 minutes of anticipation and confusion as the various juxtaposed images and actions created a space of time like no other.

The musical accompaniment was nothing like I had expected either, and the vocalizations by Alan Sparhawk were as ambiguous and indecipherable as the performance and the images projected on the screen. The sum total was an emotional effect, one that stayed with me as we left, with remains still smoldering this morning as I woke.

Tonight will be Day 2. How it plays out is anyone's guess. I can hardly wait.


DesaraeV said...

How fun and exciting! Wish I was there to experience that!

jill said...

thank you, ed, for a review.
would be great to meet u if you are around for a bit tonite after the event.


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