One of our downtown galleries is filled with an amazing device — The Refractive Kinoscope.Â Its an installation that puts you in the belly of a film projector which is a pretty amazing place to be.
Riffing on the form and function of an actual film projector, The Refractive Kinescope is put in motion by model steam locomotives and by the spectators themselves. The locomotives transport the projector bulbs illuminating more than 200 celluloid oversized film frames selected from the silent films (1910-1928) that form a ribbon spooling between two reels, spanning the entire space.
The moving lights invite you to walk along. Following the lights, you become the mechanism of the projector and bring the frames into motion.Â The action in every frame â€“ whether in a solo or a duet, was originally choreographed with great dramatic precision to express the full spectrum of human emotions. Moving through the installation, like a film editor, you assemble frames into the scenes.
For the live performances we mine selected sequences from early silent films and reconstruct embellished gestures, zealous eye movements, exaggerated postures and dramatic spatial pathways with manipulations of speed, focus and movement quality influenced by Butoh and contemporary dance forms. Extracted from 2-dimensional celluloid and re-embodied, we explore what dances conjured from the lost theatrical performances of silent film actors have to say to us now; what can be learned about the communication of human emotion through performances that re-present the past? By choreographing these dances and installing live bodies alongside The Refractive Kinescope we consider and perhaps counteract the states of loss, decay and nostalgia that pervade our contemporary view of the silent era and that more broadly challenge our notion of history as an unknowable, untouchable, unfeelable, no-longer-moving archive.