The face is the most powerful signifier. It can convey with the tenderest of subtleties the most forceful of emotions. It can create within mere milliseconds the strongest conviction of familiarity, intimacy, promise. Equally as rapidly its expression can shatter you into a thousand pieces. Render the face ever so slightly off-colour, off-scale, off-composition, and the impression is one of repulsive grotesque. And yet, we are drawn in: the eyes compel us, no matter how disfigured the rest, and even to non-anthropomorphic forms with eyes our own eyes are attracted.
We rely on others for our own sense of identity, for without that recognition we are nothing. Identity is fragile. There are no two people on earth who have had the same set of experiences of you. Despite that impossibility, the sense of you abides in more than one person. The other as friend or stranger, lover or nemesis, employer or employee, parent or child, collaborator or inspiration: the relationship with the other is what confirms the self. To lose all connection with all others wold be to lose the self.
Chamber Made’s Another Other sets two pairs of artists in opposing positions between two diaphanous screens, two sets of audience, and two projection screens, performing experiments counted up or down by two digital clocks. Moving forward and back through the complex evocations of Bergman’s Persona, Another Other layers light and sound, projection and performance, to create a space aptly characterised as “experimental opera” and “expanded cinema.”
The experience however is not a disjunctive one but one of complex signification, as rich as Persona‘s dream-sequence opening. We begin with an image superimposing the faces of each of the artists, and from there we experience movements in live-mixed digital sound, live-projected celluloid, narrative speech, digital projection, physical movement, and performance using instruments traditional and contemporary. At each moment we are responding to multiple perceptions and making multiple interpretations.
Across one series of these moments, I listen to footsteps and then watch lights being turned on, as familiar as my own home. I hear the idiosyncratic click and whirr of a small gauge film projector, see images dance across a wall, see others land with the gentlest touch on the parallel screens shrouding the performers, see others yet projected onto the screen beyond, knowing that its pair would be positioned with careful symmetry behind me. I turn and crane my neck to see it, taking in as I do the faces of dozens of others seated behind me, dozens of faces belying dozens of others set across the twinned space. Faces lit by flickering shapes and changing light, their forms changing with every moment yet remaining uncannily familiar, facing one another, seeing, listening, remembering.
By Chamber Made Opera: Erkki Veltheim, Sabina Maselli, Natasha Anderson and Anthony Pateras
18-21 February 2016
Free screening of Persona: 20 February