Well of course, being a tail-end child of The Sixties (“the part that went over the fence last,” as they used to say) you’d assume that I might like something quite so trippy as this marvellous short piece by Beryl Allee. This is not, however, some pharmaceutical double-entendre lead-in to a few minutes of visual drug paraphernalia. No! No! No! Don’t mistake the sizzle for the steak. There is so much more here. We are all frogs; it is a parable for our times:
Seeing as I have no musical chops to speak of, I’m not big on live performances and not much better on live performance videos. But these can be good, even for me, and this performance of “Herr Mannelig” by Camilla M. Ferrari is a great example. The videography gives even a non-musician a sense of what is involved in playing each instrument, and every part of the arrangement is played by Ferrari:
Camilla Ferrari is also the proprietor of Ebanisteria Musicale, a musical instrument workshop in Italy. That the stringed instrument (a tagelharpa) was new to me made the fingering all the more interesting. I had the illusion of almost understanding…
This is an instrumental arrangement of a traditional Swedish song. An English translation was posted as a comment on the video’s YouTube page. It seems to have been intended as pop propaganda warning newly Christianized Swedes against marriage with pagans. You can find a modern performance of the original Swedish (with subtitles) HERE.
FIPADOC is an international documentary film festival based in France. A History of the World According to Getty Images makes the point that even though an intellectual property is in the “public domain” that does not mean that said property is available to the public at no charge. The filmmaker, Richard Misek, follows this insight by licensing some classic film clips of U.S. history then making them available without charge.
Intellectual property might seem like a subject both tedious and irritating: tedious because it is a complicated subject and irritating because the game is rigged. But this documentary keeps its focus narrow then takes it further by telling the story (as best as anyone knows) of each clip.
This is what got my attention to view the video: a street scene filmed from the front of a San Francisco cable car in 1906, a day or two before the disastrous earthquake. No, it’s not the morbidity of the clip but the chaos of the traffic on the street: horse, auto, cable car sharing a busy street without anything more than an ephemeral agreement on right-of-way and process.
Trust me. This is not uniquely San Francisco traffic for the time. I’ve seen similar films from Chicago and New York from the same general time period and they were every bit as anarchic.
This is why we have jaywalking laws, people! The casualty rate must have been as bad as traffic injury in the 1950s. But we’ve become educated in the pedestrian dance and habitual in its moves, so maybe we’ve outgrown jaywalking laws, mostly?
All of which has nothing to do with Richard Misek’s point with the documentary, but it is one of my pet obsessions and it is why I ended up watching this wonderful little documentary.
Every year for the past several, Pecos Hank has been compiling an anthology of his year’s storm chasing, all accompanied by his own music. I’ve come to look forward to these about as much as I once did Judith Merril’sYear’s Best anthologies.
Here is Pecos Hank’s 2022, including some great shots of tornado genesis in drought-dry Texas fields:
“On anticipated big days, A storm chaser might drive all the way to Iowa and only see some rain. Then turn around and drive all night back to Texas and only see some rain. A storm chaser might drive all the way to Montana only to get a sun burn. And sometimes a storm chaser isn’t expecting to see anything and they find a monster.”
A story about an A.I. that wanted to be famous, also written and performed by an A.I. (paraphrased and edited with liberties from a human). Visualized by a human (me), flipping the norm of what we see in the AI-driven art world today. Special thanks to Amie Bennett for letting me bounce off all my ideas, Adam Kirschner for his nft bro performance, and Des Hume for his awesome music as well as featuring a track from the Midnight.
If you’ve never seen this before (and at about 4 million views, how have you not?) then you’ve missed some incredible drumming with accompaniment: two amazing physical performances that, to my uneducated ear, demanded sounds from their instruments that were implausible at least. I did say the performance was incredible, did I not?
Collaboration between master of Japanese drums (Ei-tetsu Hayashi) and master of Shamisen (Shinn-ichi Kino-shita)
The title of the song “SHI-BU-KI” is the Japanese pronunciation of “飛沫(しぶき)” which is the Japanese splash of the sea wave.
From the National Theater, Chiyoda, Tokyo · Folk Performing Performance in 1997
I’m not a big enthusiast for live music, figuring that my own lack of musical chops makes me a less than ideal member of the audience which, let’s face it, is part the performance of any live performance art.
On the other hand, it also means that some of my most vivid memories of performances have only somewhat to do with the art: like one hot, humid late June sunset concert in Grant Park, a piano concerto that demanded a very physical performance from the pianist who came to play fully suited. Would he survive the performance?
PARALYZED is another student video, this one being from Adél Palotás:
As the filmmaker puts it: “A short animation film about sleep paralysis. From my second year of Metropolitan University Budapest (2021). Animation, sound design, music and live action scenes made by Adél Palotás.”
For me, it’s hard to avoid being distracted by memories of the people I knew who were students at IIT’s Institute of Design. They would spend long days making stuff, “long” meaning at least one full night. Some of it was end-of-semester panic but it wasn’t atypical at any time during the academic year. One year we had an endless supply of cardboard reclining chairs as one fellow struggled with its elements of design and construction. Eventually the chairs became quite sturdy.
And I guess that’s my reaction to this video: sturdy. And if that seems that seems a bit… trivializing, perhaps… …Well, that’s mostly because you have no way of knowing how much pleasure a well-constructed reclining cardboard chair brings.