24 Frames Per Second

It’s absolutely cavernous and every available space is filled with movement. Bodies trapped forever in light. Be warned, this is not an experience that can be had in one sitting. Enter with your game face on, for if you aren’t entirely prepared, the dance can literally drive you to distraction. Eyes that train forward are inevitably enticed in the periphery. 24 frames of digital imagery capture mortal potential in almost every capacity; the wonder, the will, the might and the humour. An exhibition exposing curiosity and fascination with the physical form.

For me it is the culmination of a seven year partnership through many incarnations. Behind the zig zag began as a speed dating initiative spawned by Western Sydney Dance Action, now FORM, whereby 10 choreographers and 10 visual artists were invited to embark on a new artistic partnership.

Nobody called me. A reject’s reject. Momentarily dismayed, I cold called Marian Abboud who proposed a work about sheep. Yes, of the woolly ruminant variety- no, not a clever pun or metaphor (or so I thought). Armed with an image of sprightly animated farm animals bounding over fences (the kind you count to remedy insomnia), I decided to quell the urge to dominate, to set my new compadre straight about the lack of potential for a work featuring livestock and wrote a kick arse application about the pastoral history of Northern Parramatta, only to be interrupted at the eleventh hour by Marian with a change of plans and an indefinable idea about a war between analogue and digital technologies.

Two live performances, 3 residencies, an installation, a lot of locations, more than half a dozen grant applications, with hours of digital evidence accrued later and we were convinced that a filmic outcome was our destiny. I forgot to mention the tears, the battle of wills, the ridiculous requests parried to and fro:

Marian – “Do you think you could dance badly in a deep section of the Parramatta River?”

Ahh no!

Vicki – “Picture this, an image of two bodies colliding and then a random shot of an upturned bicycle wheel slowly spinning. Isn’t that funny?”

Ahh no!

I am partial to the oblique line, the body as sculpture in the middle distance; the perfect angle and proximity for kinaesthetic contagion to take hold. Marian has the uncanny ability to encompass the site as landscape, the body as protagonist to be witnessed entering and exiting the frame under a direct gaze. I don’t want to be a dancer, a body shot and manipulated. Marian reassures me, she is not an editor, relegated to cutting.

What you don’t see are the impassioned hours fighting for a meeting point. The steep learning curve and the friendship that was forged as we each expanded our disciplinary reach under the support and guidance of the other. That’s not to say that Marian’s penchant for the unexpected, the open ended accident, didn’t drive me to distraction, nor my loud dominant insistence (accompanied by equally loud demonstrative and possibly frightening gesticulations) for answers and explanations didn’t drive her to question the efficacy of our association.

It makes me wonder anew about the backstory each of the films possess, about the ideas mediated across disciplines. Latai Taumeopeu’s urgency to encourage investment in the plight of the sinking islands in the pacific as an underwater goddess in Repatriate, or Kate Murphy’s portrait of aged duets with machinery, manipulating the compromised body in intimate isolation in Lift and Push. I am fascinated by the primal battle in the bush between Matt Prest and Lee Wilson in Branch Nebula’s Whelping Box, their sheer male physicality expressed through an ambiguous (and absurdist) mediation of contemporary distraction. What possessed artist Seburo Teshigawara from Tokyo, to create the visceral open ended cube of shattered glass, inducing motion sickness in Broken Lights? Why does my heartbeat quicken in excitement when I watch the masses chant in Organised Confusion, Khaled Sabsabi’s fanatical football footage? And why am I mesmerised by Angela Mesiti’s Nakh Removed, featuring slow heads waving a residual flag of tresses, with each shift in space causing my breath to swell and expire in empathetic unison?

So much more.

If you can, get down to Carriageworks and catch some dance on film. The season is lengthy and the admission is free.

24 Frames Per Second is at Carriageworks from June 18 – August 2 – click here for more information.

– by Vicki Van Hout