LIVE: Early Morning Opera’s ABACUS @ the Filament Festival at EMPAC, 10/1/10

October 4th, 2010, 4:14 pm by Sara

ABACUS is a large-scale, multimedia presentation directed by Lars Jan that combines a plea for the dissolution of national borders with an examination of two types of modern persuasive media: TED-style PowerPoint presentations and megachurch sermons. Friday at EMPAC’s Filament Festival, it was ambitious. It was passionate. And it was too long.

Dwarfed by six huge video screens that interspersed live feeds from two steadicam operators, PowerPoint slides and video snippets, Paul Abacus did the heavy lifting of the show, delivering a 60-minute, almost non-stop monologue that veered from quiet, poignant insights to screaming exhortations.

But in marked contrast to the relentlessly pared-down simplicity that’s the trademark of a TED talk or a church sermon (and also, in the case of TED talks, a 20-minute time limit) the overly long script felt wildly uneven at times, veering from impassioned pleas to odd jokes to streaming recitations of facts that left the narrator out of breath. The overall effect was at first captivating, then tedious and finally even a little numbing.

There were, however, moments of quiet beauty, aided by Nathan Ruyle’s sparse musical interludes. Towards the 40-minute mark, the steadicam operators, having run out of new angles to shoot from, simply started dancing and twirling around, displaying their resulting swirling footage on the overhead screens. Paul Abacus gave a charismatic and compelling performance. A complete success? No, but definitely an impressive and ambitious work of experimental theater.

K.A. Laity’s review of ABACUS and more of the Filament Festival at Wombat’s World


Be Here Now: Filament Festival @ EMPAC, Troy 10/1-3/10

September 30th, 2010, 11:55 am by Sara

Lars Jan, Early Morning Opera: Abacus (image courtesy of the artist)

Lars Jan, Early Morning Opera: Abacus (image courtesy of the artist)

Where to begin? It looks like we’ll be pitching our tent on EMPAC’s lawn so as not to miss a moment of what looks like a non-stop slate of cutting-edge multimedia performances, installations and artist talks at this weekend’s Filament Festival.

It all kicks off on Friday (tomorrow) with a ribbon cutting at 5:30pm for MTAA’s All Raise This Barn (East) (previously on Nippertown). In the Cafe, there’s an opening reception for the Festival from 6-8pm including the opening swing of Relative Realities, Volkmar Klein’s two story video pendulum that gives a sonic and visual peek into another world.

Other highlights (seriously, look at the schedule, we can’t even wrap our brains around it) include:

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ArtBeat: All Raise This Barn (East)

September 29th, 2010, 12:01 pm by Sara

MTAA: All Raise This Barn (East)

EMPAC is presenting The Filament Festival this weekend, and one of the kickoff events is an old-fashioned new-fangled barn raising. Using 21st century techniques, MTAA (artists Michael Sarff and Tim Whidden) are conducting All Raise This Barn (East), a group-designed and assembled public structure using a commercially available barn-making kit as the starting point.

The online voting determines architectural, aesthetic and labor choices, as well as whether the assembly will be collaborative or competitive. Part construction project, part participatory performance, the project explores the positive and also persuasive power of the community vote and its prevalence in contemporary society, from the Internet to reality television competitions.

Just some of the burning design questions: Will the barn-raising crew get snacks? Should the barn be painted red? Should the barn have cupholders? Should the barn be built by ghosts? You’re invited to vote on these and other questions of how the barn should be designed and constructed.

Volunteer may then participate in the group assembly/performance of the final work, which will be raised in one day on the VCC North lawn on the RIP campus, starting in the early morning hours on October 1st, as well as the the ribbon cutting ceremony at 5:30 PM. We can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Win Free Tix to The Filament Festival @ EMPAC, 10/1-3/10

September 28th, 2010, 12:01 pm by Sara

Lars Jan, Early Morning Opera: ABACUS (image courtesy of the artist)

Lars Jan, Early Morning Opera: ABACUS (image courtesy of the artist)

It’s hard to believe it was only two years ago that EMPAC opened. Since then, visitors have been treated to an astonishing assortment of performances, exhibitions and films as well as events that fall firmly into the category of “indescribable happenings.”

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