Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Movies within movies

I am now working on the "Horror Movie" section of Children's Games, a pseudo-narrative within a pseudo-narrative. As I've mentioned before, I like the idea of nested elements. I also like the limitations/freedoms that a diagetic mini-project provides. I am enjoying (self-created) pressures which require/allow me to try different forms, different textures, different senses of functionality.
To quote Chion yet again, "This embedding also paradoxically makes the film closer to a live performance; the time during which we watch the performance is not simply watching the past but also living in the present." (Film, A Sound Art, p. 275)

Language exterior

I have been considering the idea of a live narrator for Children's Games, specifically an 11 year-old boy at a podium, with a light. I've been writing a variety of texts for this voice. But now that I've edited a rough cut of the first two acts, I'm attracted to the mystery of a non-linguistic unfolding, a flow of sound. Going back to Chion's definition of "ritualized cinema": "a cinema where sparse and sober dialogue, as well as the minimal place accorded to music, frees the ear and allows us to hear how sounds and the movement in the image organize time."

Obviously, the conflict/layering/confrontation of texts with tangible images produces something entirely different from either element on its own. I'm interested in the capacity for parallel narratives, non-overlapping areals of information. ...but language is a powerful tool, with the potential to overwhelm. I want to retain uncertainty regarding the narrative, even amplify it, make it stranger - I want to avoid overdetermination. Narration has the possibility of turning dances into explanations and images into illustrations. So I am carefully considering a spectrum of options. What if the narrator uses only parts of words, nonsense, sounds, repetitions? What if the narrator is a disembodied voice? What if...?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Multi-focal music

The process of composing for (or within) Children's Games has been fragmented into multiple overlapping layers. 1) The entirety of the video soundtrack is being considered as a composition - including location recordings, vocal performances, foley sounds and music. 2) The chorus will perform vocal works, interacting with the video sound and occasionally on their own. 3) A trio of violin/viola/synthesizer will play music composed and led by Matt Carlson. These pieces will be mostly separate from the chorus, but will be associated with scenes or sections in the video. 4) The electroacoustic band, Crippled Athlete, will emerge in the third act and replace the other elements.
Each of these musical approaches has a different texture and approach. Each is being considered both separately and together. Crippled Athlete has been for me the newest and most challenging mode, as we've de- and re-constructed the material several times over the last year. As a trio playing computer, keyboard, lap steel, vocals, drums and effects, we've been finding a balance as collaborators between composition and improvisation. We've been developing mnemonic "mind movies" (see previous entry) to guide aesthetic choices, graphic/verbal scores and games... and most importantly repetition and improvisation, as a way to solidify tracks, attempting to give each a specific mood and structure.
Responding to the songs as they develop, we will create costumes, gestures and video projections. Here is our most recent recording, from yesterday's practice - the last of seven takes:

Northern Lights by Seth Nehil

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Layer One

Above: behind the scenes at The Camp and The Lab (Acts 1 & 2)
Below: the first trailer!

Children's Games trailer from Seth Nehil on Vimeo.