Sonic Generator Performs Martin Matalon’s Score for Metropolis at High Museum
Movies were multimedia events before the term became popularized. Spectators at Woodruff Arts Center were reminded of this fact as they recently watched Sonic Generator perform a score composed for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis alongside a projection of the film [Tuesday May 28, 2013]. The performance was a United States premier, and the screening succeeded by bringing the film’s concerns up to date. Metropolis is a world of binaries (human/machine), but our times are blurrier. People took pictures on phones throughout the performance, a reminder of how domesticated technology has become. The performance translated these anxieties for the present moment. The score blended human and electronic elements: Pre-recorded soundtracks accompanied acoustic instruments, which were further manipulated. After intermission the score lost intensity, though Sonic Generator’s energy was unflagging. The music didn’t always match the emotional content onscreen. Argentinian musician Martin Matalon’s score replicates exactly the sound of a steam whistle, so why does it falter when the film’s leads fall in love? The discontinuity could be a statement about art’s inability to represent emotion. Or maybe Matalon became more enamored with making noise. A silent passage near the end of the performance also seemed poorly placed. Had the prerecorded track outrun the players? But these are minor quibbles. It is rare to see such seamless splicing of independent media, and Sonic Generator’s stamina throughout the film’s runtime was nothing short of machinelike.
Drawing Instruments: Al Taylor’s Bat Parts and Endcuts
A bat and a steel tube form the basis for the two series of work currently represented in Drawing Instruments: Al Taylor’s Bat Parts and Endcuts at the High Museum [now through August 25, 2013]. While the objects of origin seem simple enough, Taylor’s constructions transcend their quotidian use to become sculptural drawings that play with line, dynamism, and light. Bat Parts (1993-1994 series) maintains the playfulness inherent in Taylor’s work—and the original bat used to produce the series remains identifiable. This accessibility to the materials prevents the (suspended) drawings from becoming pretentious [Taylor referred to both his sculptural and two-dimensional works as “drawings”]. The bat is thus reimagined in a new playful manner, yet maintains its original context as a tool. Instead of a hard impenetrable shell, the bat is a now thin, curving streak, casting calligraphic lines across its locale.
Taylor’s concept of his constructions as drawings, as opposed to three-dimensional sculptural objects, comes through in the accompanying drawings for both series. The oscillating lines on the page highlight movement, a play of light across the pieces, and thus referencing the multiple vantage points from which one can observe an object. The solidity of these drawings—both the two- and three-dimensional works—comes both from the physical metal bat form as well as the firm shadows those forms cast. Taylor eloquently calls into play a more flexible definition of mark marking and the instruments that can build a drawing.
Mr. Coperthwaite, a Life in the Maine Woods, Part Two: A Summer Task
Poet Emily Dickinson influenced Bill Coperthwaite’s decision to purchase and spend decades working on 300 acres of Maine wilderness. Documentary filmmaker Anna Grimshaw seems more inspired by Henry David Thoreau in the approach to her four-part film series Mr. Coperthwaite, A Life in the Maine Woods, presented by the Film Love series. As if chronicling a contemporary equivalent to Thoreau’s experience near Walden Pond, the films capture Coperthwaite going about simple activities attuned with the world around him.
Each of the four films depicts Coperthwaite in a specific season, with the new one, A Summer Task, observing him and a friend work to fell, strip and clear trees in order to make a trail through the woods. Grimshaw’s digital video camera doesn’t convey the lushness of the firs and spruces, but seeks to make a virtue of plainness and simplicity, almost as if we’re seeing footage from a security camera. Watching two middle-aged guys shift a log isn’t exactly as compelling as, say, seeing scores of natives move a steamship over a jungle hill in Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. Nevertheless, when the end of the film finds Coperthwaite in repose, reciting some verse by George Santayana, A Summer Task finds some of the transcendence the filmmaker has been seeking.
Mr. Coperthwaite, a life in the Maine Woods, Part 2: A Summer Task
Friday June 7th at 8pm
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
535 Means St.
$8; $5 students and seniors; free with ACAC membership
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