Since the founding of Clubfoot Orchestra in 1983, San Francisco has been a leader in pairing film classics with composed or improvised scores. Not only is Clubfoot Orchestra scaling new heights, but a rich new crop of ensembles for film + sound have created a second wave of Bay Area shadow play for the 21st century.
Fushigi Kenkyūkai are a collective of film and sound artists mixing veterans of Bay Area "wayang sinema" ensembles like Clubfoot Orchestra & Reel Change with pioneers of electronic, computer-based, and invented instruments.
Fushigi Kenkyūkai (不思議研究会) means "Paranormal Research Society". The truth is out there… beyond normal reality.
The program uses two surrealist film classics and a cubo-futurist mechanical "ballet" to find it.
— Jorge Bachmann (electronics)
— Beth Custer (bass & other clarinets)
— Bryan Day (invented instruments)
— Thomas Dimuzio (electronics)
— Tom Djll (surrealist prepared trumpet)
— Joe Lasqo (keyboards | laptop | objects)
— David Michalak (lap steel guitar | small percussion | film curator)
— Suki O'Kane (percussion)
Opening Shorts (33 min)
> Fernand Léger: Ballet mécanique — or, in our case, électromécanique (19 min)
> Maya Deren (Майя Дерен): Meshes Of The Afternoon (14 min)
— Jean Cocteau: Blood Of A Poet (Le sang d'un poète), 55 min
(1930) Cocteau described his first film, Blood Of A Poet (Le sang d'un poète) as "a descent into oneself, a way of using the mechanism of the dream without sleeping, a crooked candle, often mysteriously blown out, carried about in the night of the human body."
The journey begins when a mouth in an artist's sketch starts moving, wanders off the paper and occupies the artist's hand, then finally finds a home on a statue in the studio, making it come alive… and continues through a mirror to the «Hôtel de Folies Dramatiques»… and far, far beyond…
"My relationship with the work was like that of a cabinetmaker who puts together the pieces of a table whom the spiritualists, who make the table move, consult." - Cocteau
(1924) Recovering from the mustard gas attack that nearly killed him toward the end of World War 1, Léger began to integrate his wartime experiences with the machinery and inhumanity of the front into his art, leading to a cubo-futurist Ballet mécanique propelled by a kinetic esthetic that emphasized movement, repetition and a nascent transhumanism in its fluid and porous boundaries between human and machine. Now with new electronic score, ⇒ Ballet électro-mécanique.
(1943) Maya Deren (Майя Дерен) said of her Meshes Of The Afternoon that it "does not record an event which could be witnessed by other persons".
A flower on a long driveway, a knife in a loaf of bread, a phone off the hook, a Grim Reaper with a mirror instead of a face, a key falling, a phonograph, and other motifs all participate in a spiraling fugue where potential meanings are developed and abandoned like polyphonic lines.