Short Takes – BJ
On the Tavis Smiley show,
Anthony Hopkins suggested that
“confusion forces us to reassess the situation.”
Gandhi was right. One delicacy only increases
our yearning for another.
(Coffee calls for a scone,
a doughnut or a croissant.)
Our appetites are voracious,
insatiable. Better we should slow
down to a strong, steady fast.
Don’t worry about what you haven’t done.
Just do what you can right now,
and enjoy it the best you can.
“I never think of the future.
It comes soon enough.”
– Albert Einstein
Reflections upon 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968, 141 minutes, Cinemascope)
After all these years, Stanley Kubrick’s movie, 2001, remains an agelessly elegant, magical masterpiece! At times, in the beginning, it seems to flow along leisurely, almost to the point of boredom – then, from the vaguely mundane, it ascends to the utterly strange, culminating in what has to be the most imaginative presentation ever of what might become of us. We are transported to a place that is beyond the sleek banality of our futuristic machinery, into realms of cosmic mystery, encountering, at last, our own incomprehensible selves.
Putting on a Show
At some level I think we would all like to put on a show – our own show – as in “show and tell.”
Right now, my show would go something like this: first, some kind of introduction (or not), then a segment of THE NEW WORLD – where the Indians first encounter the Englishmen, using T. Bone Burnett’s tune “Humans from the Earth” as a soundtrack and concluding both the audio and video at the end of that tune. Then I would go directly into the “David Bowie Excursion through the Stargate Corridor” as described below.
The first rule about putting on a show, a demonstration, or whatever it might be called, is to attend to what the absurdist artist Marcel Duchamp advised, “Have fun or you’ll bore us.” Thus, from the very beginning you’ve got a perfect audience – your own self! Running through the show several times for yourself is also the best way to determine it’s likely reception.
In this issue of THE SEED CATALOG, it is my intention to initiate a sharing of ideas about how to put on an audiovisual, multimedia show – also to explain why. For entertainment purposes, of course, as well as for educational and inspirational ones. The Spanish philosopher Unamuno said that the proper function of a temple is to provide a place for weeping. My goal in putting on a show, such as described here, would be to create a satisfying, healing emotional environment of wonder.
Where the show happens and the whole set-up and setting is crucial to its success. Spontaneous shows often occur in offices, living rooms – almost anywhere – as friends or associates gather around a computer screen to view a digital slide show. Whether formal or informal, large or small, every presentation deserves preparation and rehearsal, especially – as in examples to follow – when there are multiple steps involved.
Balance in the proportion of components is important. For example, don’t let the sound be bigger than the images. I prefer visuals to be as large as possible (“larger than life”), but if clarity is compromised unduly, the images can be reduced accordingly, or presented on another system. Minimal sources of distraction will amplify an audiences ability to focus upon the presentation. A darkened room is preferable to one that is overly lighted and buzzing with other activity. Audio input should not overwhelm images. Let not the sound be larger than the vision.
A willing audience is essential. Best of all is an eager, participating audience, and this requires a general consensus of interest. When I was working with a youth media task group in Connecticut, putting on multimedia shows, we would go on “picture-nic”excursions, armed with recording equipment and cameras, and produce material to be integrated in the final production. The objective of any show is to create and share experiences of dramatic worth.
Bill Joyner’s Cinema Circus Movie-Go-Round
A DAVID BOWIE EXCURSION THROUGH THE STARGATE CORRIDOR
(DO try this at home!)
Acquire a DVD of the movie 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Create a CD or TAPE with these Bowie tunes:
“Hang onto Yourself’”
“Sound and Vision”
“Ashes to Ashes”
Have the movie set on pause at scene 28, “Jupiter and Beyond ...” – making sure soundtrack is at the lowest volume, i.e., off, but not on “mute,” as that designation may likely appear on the screen or monitor and remain there.
While above title scene is still on pause, begin playing the Bowie CD for about 2 minutes as the “Space Oddity” tune gets going. This advance activation of the CD or TAPE is important because the cessation point for the presentation is designed to be at the exact end of the tune “Ziggy Stardust,” and just before the final scenes of the film begin. The aproximately 2 minute audio advance allows that to occur. You can advance from the title scene (“Jupiter ...) – just slightly into the cosmic visualizations, then pause the film again until the audio advance period is up, then activate the “play” switch on the movie, and it’s SHOW TIME!
Ending this free form wonder storm is rather crucial. It depends, of course, on where you want to go from its consumation. I would not attempt to match tunes or anything else with Kubrick’s final scenes. That most elegant of all imaginative conclusions will always be perfect just as it is. After a brief pause, a viewing of the movie’s final scenes with its own soundtrack could be effective and appropriate. A brief audiovisual bridge can be constructed during such a transition by leaving the DVD on pause, replaying Bowies tune “Sound & Vision,” thus keeping the mood somewhat and helping the audience adjust to the movie itself. A slide of the 2001 movie poster projected over the paused scenes before and after the show, as well as during the transition, would further enhance the experience.
Bill Joyner/POB 3411/Sarasota, FL 34230 (email@example.com)
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NEIL YOUNG TUNES WITH SEGMENTS OF THE MOVIE “BARAKA”
Acquire a dvd copy of the movie “Baraka” (Check with Amazon.com)
& Neil Young’s CDs “Rust Never Sleeps” “Harvest Moon” and “Ragged Glory”
Have the movie on “pause” at scene 15 (Street Travelers – man & boy on bike), start the Neil Young tune “Sail Away” (track 5 on the CD “Rust Never Sleeps.”) about 45 seconds before activating the “play” button on the DVD player: hit “ pause” again at the very end of the Buto Dance, as dancers exit the stage. Next, switch the DVD disc back to scene 8 (Water Dance – flocks of flying birds & water fall) and play against Neil’s “Mother Earth” (track 10 on the CD “Ragged Glory”). The tune should end precisely as the huge tree falls (omit applause at the end). Finally, go to scene 21 (Rotating Starfields, beginning with depiction of the back of a monk’s head) and play it along with the tune “Harvest Moon,” (track 4 on the CD “Harvest Moon.”) Pause the opening scene of this segment about 45 seconds as the tune proceeds, then hit “play” on the DVD, and conclude music & visuals as film credits begin.
The movie “Baraka” (70mm Color, 104 minutes, 2001) deserves a full viewing on its own, as is the case with “2001.” Excepted movie sequences utilized in mixed media presentations, such as the ones outlined here, are but elaborate trailers (previews) – enticements, really – for experiencing particular films in their entirety. Without words, the film “Baraka” (a Sufi term meaning the essence of life) transports us to environs amazing, serene, and at times disturbing, as it not only is a tribute to the earth’s beauty but a documentation of its degradation. Throughout, it is realistic, artistic poetry.
A Few Cautionary Observations about Multimedia Shows – from my own Experience
It seems best, to me, not to present a film in its original form along with mixed media sequences; by which I mean this: viewing the film as such is quite a different experience from viewing segments of it in unique, multimedia combinations.
I am fond of Corita Kent’s insight that any strong set of words will tend to blend with or contrast with any strong set of visualizations. My own combinations of music and cinema are built upon just such a general assumption, but I think we must not take Corita’s observation too literally, understanding that not every artistic component will necessarily blend effectively and appropriately with any other. We must, obviously, have confidence in our own judgement and sense of taste in creating multimedia environments. We can always benefit from perceptive evaluations, so rehearsals and pre-show feedback can be very helpful in putting on a good show.