26 February 2011

Blade Runner remix

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) here in Brisbane is currently running a Science Fiction exhibition, called "A New Tomorrow: Visions Of The Future In Cinema", screening a whole lot of films that paint varying (utopian and dystopian) views of our future.

Tonight was a special event, called "Zan Lyons vs Blade Runner AV".

Here's the blurb from the GOMA website:
Zan Lyons vs Blade Runner AV
Fri 25 & Sat 26 February 8.30pm (75 mins) / Cinema A
Don’t miss this exclusive audio-visual performance by Berlin-based filmmaker and sound artist Zan Lyons. With an international reputation for his uncompromising recordings and live shows, Lyons will perform with viola, foot pedals and laptop while simultaneously remixing and reworking Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner 1982. Lyons has completely rewritten the film's legendary electronic score by composer Vangelis, and re-edited several scenes with his own visuals to achieve a dark and chaotic spectacle.

The PR/Marketing department at work was offered free passes by the gallery (free is always good!) so I called up Marketing and said I was keen. Having re-watched Blade Runner within the last few weeks as part of Double Feature SciFi Saturday, it sounded like fun.

Kara and I took the bus in and had an interesting "arty" night out. It was our first experience of a live "VJ", and most of the time it was quite loud. Having said that, Lyons' sounds he got out of that viola were pretty darn good. Sometimes he even used a bow. Other times it was plucking, or knocking on the wooden parts with his knuckles for percussive effects. Blowing on the strings produced weird "blowing-over-the-top-of-a-coke-bottle" kind of tones.

As for the use of Blade Runner images, that was a little less impressive. One of my other colleagues (another film buff) who was there summed it up in one word as "Abstract". I was fine with chopping and changing shots from the film (huge chunks of the film were left out, but the parts he used were at least in order), but the scenes of added-in visuals were a little distracting. Who is that woman in the field? Why is she crawling along in slow-mo? What does she have to do with Harrison Ford chasing down replicants? Etc. For most of the hour-and-a-bit of the performance, the film part was silent, just playing along on a big screen behind the VJ while he played around with the score. There were only a couple scenes where he used samples of dialogue - but these were over-distorted and extremely muffled. Yes, I suppose the whole night was about the remixing of the music, and the images, but I still wanted to hear Rutger Hauer's closing lines.

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