ny_hearts: park slope press release

On April 19, I’m opening the second part of my neighborhood love stories. Below is the official press release for NY_Hearts: Park Slope. I’d love to see you there. And if you’re interested in doing some press on the show, hit me up!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: James Carter | info@onemuse.com | 646.279.6886

NY_HEARTS: PARK SLOPE
FEATURING CARLO ALBAN

APRIL 19 – MAY 12

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS IN PARK SLOPE BROOKLYN
INCLUDING BABELAND, DELUXE COFFEE & BAR TOTO

Following up the first of his neighborhood experiences, writer and experience designer James Carter heads to Park Slope, Brooklyn for part two of NY_Hearts. Part walking tour, part love story, NY_Hearts offers people a new way to discover NYC by stepping into the characters’ shoes. Set in four different NYC neighborhoods, participants enjoy drinks and other surprises from local businesses, which are featured in an audio story shared over mobile devices. Other bits of the story include character websites, online character vlogs, original music and visual art.

Carlo Albán plays the role of Sal, a struggling musician who meets the love of his life, Madelyn. Together, amidst the brownstones of Park Slope, they make music and find more than just a songwriting partner.

“I can’t wait to share the second part of this four part love story,” said creator and producer James Carter. “Part two brings the tale of Sal to a close and introduces a new chapter in this series. Plus, there are several great local Park Slope restaurants and merchants appearing in this story.”

Featuring six different locations in the Park Slope, Brooklyn including three small businesses, NY_Hearts: Park Slope integrates goods and services featured in the tale. Participating partners include Babeland, DeLuxe, and Bar Toto. Conceived as a fun way to discover the New York neighborhoods, the ticket includes coffee, drinks and a surprise toy.

NY_Hearts: Park Slope
April 19 – May 12
Purchase tickets at
BrownPaperTickets.com
For details about the show or to listen to part one, visit
www.NY-Hearts.com

300 dpi hi res photo for download:20130424-123829.jpg

Carlo Albán has been acting in theater, film and television for over twenty years. He has appeared on television shows ranging from Sesame Street to Prison Break, and in films such as Whip It, Margaret and 21 Grams. As a writer, he developed his solo show Intríngulis, dealing with his experiences growing up as an undocumented immigrant, with Labyrinth Theater Company. Intríngulis received its world premiere in November 2010 in Los Angeles, in conjunction with Labyrinth and the Elephant Theater. Carlo is a member of Labyrinth Theater Company and a recipient of New Dramatists’ Charles Bowden Award.

One Muse Presents is a presenting and producing company of James Carter a playwright and experience designer. He uses transmedia to tell rich and exciting stories. Transmedia describes one story told over multiple digital and physical platforms. His previous transmedia play, Feeder: A Love Story, was presented by terraNOVA Collective at HERE. More about One Muse Presents and James Carter at www.onemuse.com

# # # #

www.NY-Hearts.com

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reach out and touch someone

This feature first appeared on Culturadar, an arts listings website for New York City. You can read the original post here.

A woman appears on a computer screen and smokes a cigarette in a tiny London flat. She coyly asks if you’ve ever followed a stranger to a hotel room. In Australia, a bouncy blonde wearing what looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume pops up on a laptop, insisting she met you hundreds of years ago. Together, you have a plan to save the world. A third woman – a Romanian – shares a sad tale about her boyfriend, photographs and donuts.

This isn’t a private adult video chat you discover after accidentally clicking a link in a spam email. This is theater.  Long Distance Affair, produced by PopUp Theatrics, takes the audience on a journey around the world. And you don’t even have to get on an airplane.

Creators and directors Tamilla Woodard and Ana Margineanu create intimate theatrical experiences for one person. Digital theater for one. Some of the performances are interactive, requiring audience members to engage with the character. Others are passive, offering a more traditional theater monologue. Each piece is more unpredictable than the previous.

With Long Distance Affair, Ms. Margineanu and Ms. Woodard partnered a director, a playwright and an actor to create eight minute bits of theater performed live from the actor’s own home. The audience views these performances via Skype from New York City’s The Gershwin Hotel. Here’s the catch (as if there wasn’t enough of one already): None of the creators live in the same country as their collaborators. In two weeks, they write, rehearse and perform the short plays. All over Skype.

PopUpBanner“In Romania, the director is considered a god,” explained Ms. Margineanu. “In America, the playwright is god. In Russia, the actor is god. You can imagine what happens when three gods try to work together.”

Not only is it an experiment in form and process. It’s a test of endurance. Actors must perform the same eight minute piece up to 30 times in one evening – sometimes at 3:00am, if they live seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

PopUp Theatricals is devoted to unpacking the creator’s relationship with the audience. With their other major production, Hotel Project, PopUp again assembled international creative teams. In another exclusive performance, a lone audience member becomes a fly on the wall while a scene plays out around her or him.

Long Distance Affair runs through February 28, and tickets are limited due to the intimate nature of the event. Because of the staggered schedules and time differences of actor locations, audiences can attend multiple nights and might see different plays. Don’t think this is an entirely digital experience. There are analog elements that allow audience members to connect with the characters, too. Who knows? You might even receive a present from a new friend in another part of the world.

_____________________

LONG DISTANCE AFFAIR
THE GERSHWIN HOTEL
7 east 27th street, NYC (next to the Museum of Sex)
Tickets ONLY $25
Available at ovationtix. com or by calling 866-811-4111

beyond the surface of things: an interview with lyle kessler and david fofi

This interview originally appeared on Culturadar, an arts listings website for New York City. You can read the original post here.

Entering Rattlestick Playwrights Theater on Waverly Place, I blinked my watery eyes as my face thawed from the blistering cold blanketing the city. I asked for Lyle Kessler and David Fofi, the playwright and director, respectively, of Collision, a new Off-Broadway play being produced by The Amoralists, a downtown company known for raw, in-your-face productions. Neither gentleman had arrived, so I stood at the back of the theater and watched the cast of Collision joke with each other on stage as they relaxed prior to their final preview performance.

After a few minutes, Mr. Kessler entered the theater and immediately saw me. He stretched a sweet smile between longish locks of silver hair. His gravelly voice inquired, “Are you James?”

He reminded me of, Harold, a character from his famous play, Orphans: a smart, old dog with some good lines and a few tricks up his sleeve. I confirmed my identity, and he wondered where “Fofi” was. Mr. Kessler looked at his watch and realized we were both early, so he approached the edge of the stage where the cast joyfully greeted him, like a favorite uncle. It’s clear they like having him around. He’s a likable man, as I soon discovered.

David Fofi arrived right on time; his stocky frame stuffed into a bundle of winter wears. Mr. Kessler joked about it being colder than Los Angeles, where Mr. Fofi resides and is artistic director of The Elephant Theatre Company, also known for hyper-real productions, including L.A. premieres of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ plays.

We settled into the two back rows of the Rattlestick’s house, and the actors instinctually vacated the stage, only to return intermittently to warm up for the evening’s performance. I saw Collision the day before, and I was eager to discuss the play’s development and its themes, including family, violence in America, love and hate.

JAMES CARTER: Orphans is receiving its Broadway debut in March. What’s the difference between mounting a 30 year old play on the Great White Way and a new play with a company like the Amoralists?

LYLE KESSLER: This is very exciting because it’s a new play. We’re on a journey, an adventure in discovering it. I mean, Orphans has been discovered and rediscovered, and been around for a while. Certainly, it’s wonderful it’s being done on Broadway. For years they were attempting to do it. Finally, I’m fortunate Alec Baldwin is doing it.

This is a play that I wrote a few years ago…the first draft of it…and I was sort of was rewriting and developing sort of privately because I didn’t have any productions of it. I had a relationship with Dave Fofi at The Elephant because I lived out there for many years…my wife and me. He directed a play of mine called Robbers, and they called me and said they were going to do it. And, then I began going to the Elephant Theater, which is really kind of a cutting edge theater in L.A. It’s terrific. It’s like the Amoralists or Steppenwolf or Labyrinth. So, I would go to see all his plays…all of Steve Guirgis’ L.A. premiers.

So, we had a relationship, Dave and I, and so that when Collision was going to be done…David Van Asalt was going to do it…Terry Kenney connected to it for quite a while, and then he got offered a Broadway play of Neil LaBute’s, you know. Then David gave me a list of directors that may or may not be possible to come in…and many of these people were all booked up and I wasn’t crazy about some of the people on the list, and I thought to myself, “Oh, shit.” You know? And then I thought, “Why don’t I call Fofi up? I mean, I know he’s got this fuckin’ theater, you know, in L.A….

Mr. Fofi laughs.

…and he’s probably booked for the whole year.” And it turns out that they had taken a little a…a…

DAVID FOFI: Hiatus.

LK: Hiatus. And they were going to start in February, March, and he said, “Hey, I’m available. Send me the play!” So I sent him the play and this is how it happened. He read it, and flew in…without much preparation.

They both laugh

DF: That’s the best way to do it.

JC: Down and dirty?

DF: Not too much time to over-think everything.

JC: You’re a writer, too, right? Or, you have written?

DF: I’m primarily a director, but I do work with a kind of…I guess I would say…most of the time I seem to be working with new scripts. I don’t write scripts myself, but I’ve a lot of experience working with writers in development.

JC: And you like working on new plays?

DF: Yeah, that’s what I wanted to do, you know, when I really got started working on theater in Los Angeles downtown after school back in ’95…’96. I kind of got into theater late, as some people would say…in terms of it wasn’t something I did in high school. So, when I did get involved it was actually post military.

JC: You were in the Navy, right?

DF: Yes, I was in the Navy. And I was really attracted to this contemporary new stuff. And though I appreciate…have an appreciation for classics and all of the different kinds of theater people do or revive, my company was started primarily as a new theater company.

DF: That’s part of the process for me is just telling stories that reflect the completely complex and insane world that we live in. You know? So many topics…so many things that touch our American lives or abroad. We like to do stuff…like Lyle’s stuff, too…that’s very kind of visceral…very down to earth. Not that everything has a realism, but it’s definitely something that approaches people on a level of this is something that they either relate with. Or, it is part of our fabric and it is something you should be aware of. Whether it’s something that has comedy or tragedy or both…a little bit of both, that’s what we’re attracted to.

JC: There are some great performances in Collision. Nick Lawson and muMs were especially beautiful. How have the actors influenced the development of the play?

DF: They had probably a series of readings over the past year…or something like that…with Terry or with maybe various actors in and out. But, I think that once we got started, Lyle was really willing to and wanted to open it up and really mine it for everything he could kind of find in there. Of course, anytime you get have opportunity to use the actors…I mean, just to have human beings to hear how things sound, how they would feel about it…especially with the youth involved. Because I’m older. I’m an old guy.

Laugher.

DF: I always think it’s good for Lyle to hear that stuff. Obviously, he’s the writer. Anything I can do to facilitate not only hearing different things…the opportunity to look at it from different angles, hear different ways…hear how it comes out of actor’s mouths…and also just from a generational stand point of what type of feelings they may have on it.

In the amount of time that we had, it was definitely kind of a workshop/rehearsal process that was pretty impacting. A lot of work got done.

LK: My plays are allegories. Orphans is a parable, really, though the emotions are very true. You know, I try to find a certain basic truth by not going into a realism kind of thing…although everything is real in terms of intense emotions. But, in this piece, which is much different than most of the plays I’ve written because of the…it’s like a fable…it’s like an old, Medieval morality play with extremes of behavior. The play has gaps in it because I didn’t want to write it naturalistically. And, to try to mine the truth I was trying to find in it, it had to move in certain ways and things would happen and would change.

So, Dave’s involvement has been essential to the links of each of the scenes so the audience can follow to a degree and go with the journey. Dave was bringing in certain kinds of reality issues that needed to be put into the play, you know…and the play needed. As we said, this was like a brief…this would be way out of town now…in Baltimore…we’d just be developing the piece. It’s like a pressure cooker here doing it so intensely. Trying to discover with the set and the music and everything…so, I’m very happy with the production Dave’s done.

JC: Both Collision and Orphans have similar themes – especially that of family and redemption. What does family mean to you?

Mr. Kessler laughs.

LK: Well, like my character [Grange] says, “I’d never put them on the wall. I’d have nightmares.”

We all laugh.

JC: It hits close to home.

LK: You know, I love the fact that Fofi comes from a military background. His father was a lifetime career…his brothers were all career. This great family. We all come from different families. I use a lot of extreme emotions with my family.

Family, you know, I guess there is…I never try to connect the two of them as themes, but I guess the first one is…in a way…a positive family. Orphans becomes a family. In a way there’s a redemption there. He brings the two brothers together and they live their life.

This one, is a different journey. It’s probably the reverse of it. But it’s a family. The people — in both aspects — need family. I think this is what’s happening in America right now with the families…the macabre families of violence and needs and lost people…are looking for something and not getting it and striking out.

I never intended it to be a play about guns. It just accidentally happened I was writing a play about these characters and it turned into this family that he [Grange] brings a family and exerts his power. It’s open to interpretation whether he comes into the room and wants to do that from the beginning. Or, as he starts to observe his power it starts to see more accumulates and ends up where it’s ended. I love the fact that there’s laugher, and then suddenly the audience doesn’t realize…it turns on a dime, really. “What are we laughing at?” It’s a black comedy, but it’s extreme emotions. So…we’ll see what happens.

DF: Family to me has always been very important. Four boys in my family. Military. Different than a lot of people I know. Like I said, my family’s very strong, male, you know, kind of ideals. But, you know, I think we had a kind of intense and at the same time loyalty and a lot of looking out for each other.

I think the thing here when I approached at the top was human beings or people have an inherent need for that. Whether it’s an actual biological family or the family that you choose. The family that you fall into. Sometimes you don’t choose it, you just find yourself involved. Whether it’s a gang…whether it’s a theater company…a musical group. Whatever your cabal or click that you happen to find. We’d all like to think that people are all just so secure and strong and sound by themselves. But people like to be part of something. And to me that’s an extension of family.

I think, when people don’t have that…and whether it’s even good or bad…I sometimes think apathy is even worse than sometimes coming from a rough family. Rough father…or rough family…at least there’s an impact there. When there’s a vacuum, something’s gonna fill it. And, I think in some of the young people, there’s a vacuum out there today. It can be filled in various forms. Whether it’s media, or whether it’s other people…and, unfortunately, they become very susceptible to with going with the group. Until you find yourself face to face with, “What are we doing here?”

This [Collision] is an extreme version. Obviously, it’s very extreme. From here to here. But, I can name a myriad of instances where people find themselves part of a group and then find themselves face to face with the decision, “Do I even believe this group is doing?” And it doesn’t necessarily mean something this intense.

I think people are always searching for that.

JC: You’re tackling very controversial and current issues, including atheism and violence. Did the Newtown shootings influence the development of the play?

LK: When I wrote the play, I had these posters that were going to be put up. And one of them was Heath Ledger as the Joker. I didn’t realize. We had it there and took it down. Somehow, in my…I don’t know how I intuited this character would be drawn to this kind of violence. And then, this kid that did that in the movie theater had the same thing.

I wasn’t doing it terms of controversy. Hopefully, it’s about what is happening now. I always intended to try to discover what the nature of… Fascinated by all the books about Hitler to try and identify at what point did he become a crazed racist and a psychopath. And then you read this thing that he was a poetic soul in the beginning. His buddy…I have a book that that they went on the mountain, and they talked about music…and Hitler had a “yearning disposition.” The guy became the worst mass killer in history.

And nobody could identity where that is. Nobody could identify what the kids at Columbine…why they would want to commit suicide…why they would want to kill people.

I don’t explain it in the play, as you know. To go naturalistically, and say, “He did this because of that,” is just a lie. It’s an assumption that I don’t…I’m trying to go for bigger fish. I’m trying to attempt to leave it to the audience to understand that these people…I’m trying to make them human. That hopefully they’re not so far from us. And maybe to disturb that way. They become this family, they need each other, and they’re manipulated. And they need each other. It happens. I don’t try to show the naturalism of it.

DF: The news…I heard about it in this theater from the stage manager, who was online. Obviously, it affected me in a strong way. And it wasn’t something we wanted to go, “Okay, we’re gonna rewrite things.” But I think it affected me in terms of, “Okay, what are we doing?” I think going into it I took it from the level of, “I’m directing a play…is it a dark comedy? How far do we want to go with it? Are we going from this parable…maybe this graphic novel kind of feeling in my head to…”

You know there are particulars of just staging it and not thinking about them. I don’t ever go into something thinking about repercussions. You know? I don’t choose that kind of theater. If I was worried about it, I wouldn’t do it.

I remember this [Newtown] happened on a Thursday or Friday. That weekend I was kind of going through something. I needed something to be really passionate about this. And in the midst of that initial, kind of, “Oh, shit. This is one of the most horrific things I’ve ever heard, and here we are doing this play. How can we continue to do this?”

For me, it was really digging down and saying this is why I decided to do theater. It’s not to make everybody happy all the time. It was to tackle things. Issues. That are happening. Not to be a shock artist. Just to take on topics that need to be discussed. For me, the passion of it became maybe more clear. Obviously, I just wanted to hold it to a lot more reverence and respect to the play and to the characters…to the process. That this wasn’t something to be done…not that it was ever lightly…but it was even more paramount that this was important. To basically go, “This has become a part of the fabric of our society that we’ve chosen to ignore a lot of.”

LK: These people [the characters in Collision] are nihilists against existence, really. I don’t know if they’re atheists. I think they want to kill off God. I mean, their rage…they need the gods because they’re so enraged at existence and whatever existence did to them. Whatever failings… And I have a feeling that a lot of these killings and a lot of these people…that it goes beyond revenging their families or things that happened… I think there is a feeling in a sense like a baby striking out against everything and everybody. That’s what Grange says to provoke them. He asks them, “What do you hate?”

They see themselves as revolutionary nihilists against existence. Whatever that entails.

JC: Today is Martin Luther King Day, and I happened to come across this before I came over here to see you guys. He said:“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or love?”

I was already going to ask you this question: What do you hate?

Laughter all around.

DF: Extremists!

More laughter.

JC: On the other hand…I also want to know: what do you love?

DF: I love a lot of things. I love my family. I love freedom. I love honesty. I love good people. I love generous people. I love grace. I love forgiveness. I love creativity. I love loyalty. You know, I love…a lot of things.

What do I hate? Ignorance. And not the kind of ignorance that can’t be helped. The kind of ignorance where…you should know better. Or, you just choose not to. Extremists just refuse to be open-minded to anything.

Obviously, I hate murderers, killers, rapists. That goes kind of without saying. But on a bigger level, I hate the idea that we, right now – at this time in America – seem to focus on the most sensationally unimportant things. You know? News stories that just dominate the airwaves that are so inconsequential to anybody’s lives. Some celebrity lied about something. Somebody said a politically incorrect term on the radio. God forbid! We sit there and argue about that while, you know, stepping over some human laying in their own pee to spit on someone wearing fur. That’s the mentality right now. Social activism. It just seems to be a fashionable way of thought right now. Rolling with that, instead of really…really looking at what’s around us.

Millions and millions of dollars are wasted arguing about something that half of that money could have probably had a solution for. I don’t know what the answer is to that. I probably become more disgusted by our political process and our elected leaders representing their party and not this country.

JC: (to LK) What do you love?

LK: You know, I love the theater because it encompasses everything that Dave was talking about…family, love…I mean…coming together. It’s what brought me back to New York, really, from film, which doesn’t have the same feeling. Theater is amazing because it brings up family and how people deal in family…and how you have to resolve issues. And, also, you’re creating something greater than yourself. It’s something to live for, and it’s why we’re here. Not just the everyday things…eating, sleeping and making a living.

And what do I hate?

I hate the idea that people take things at face value and don’t see beyond the surface. They jump to conclusions. I hate that people don’t think for themselves. If people thought for themselves, they wouldn’t be able to be controlled by a situation like this. Or, by Hitler…or, by Stalin. They would think for themselves.

As she [Doe] says: “Stand up and fight,” she tells the professor. But, he says, “Well, I can’t because my wife would destroy me.”

So, I think, look for people who can see the world and make decisions based on what they’re looking at rather than what is usually the case. It’s all a knee jerk reaction to the surface of things. I hate the surface of things because it’s untrue.

JC: Well, thank both very much for hanging out today. It may not be exactly what you expected. I don’t know what you expected.

Everyone laughs.

But I appreciated it. It’s fun to talk about deeper stuff, I think, than the surface of things in life.  

_____________

Collision runs through February 17 at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
224 Waverly Place, between Perry and West 11th Streets
(866) 811-4111; collisiontheplay.com

PHOTO CREDITS
Middle image (L-R): Craig ‘muMs’ Grant as Renel, James Kautz as Grange and Anna Stromberg as Doe. Photo by Russ Rowland

Bottom image (L-R): James Kautz as Grange, Michael Cullen as Professor Denton, Nick Lawson as Bromley, and Anna Stromberg as Doe. Photo by Russ Rowland.

peaking at the new frontier

Sometimes, things just work out.

That’s how I felt Saturday night as I fell asleep on the red eye departing from Salt Lake City. My wife and I just completed a week vacation with her parents and brother skiing in the mountains of Utah, and we capped it off with my first visit to the Sundance Film Festival. We scheduled the vacation with short notice, and it was only after setting the trip’s dates we realized its tail end would overlap with the start of Sundance. We didn’t have tickets to any films, but I knew I wanted to visit New Frontier, the social and creative venue that showcases media installations, multimedia performances, and transmedia experiences.

First, we went to another venue to see if we could get tickets to a documentary, but it (like all the other films that day) was sold out and had a very long waitlist queue in which we would need to stand for over an hour before getting a number to hopefully be selected two hours later, when they assessed open seating and called off numbers. Needless to say, it didn’t sound like our idea of a fun day. We headed over to the New Frontier venue.

WelcomeToNewFrontierSandwiched between one of the park-and-ride lots and The Blind Dog sushi bar is The Yard, a 100,000 square foot multipurpose space that houses the New Frontier venue. Divided into three parts, the main area features a gallery-style space featuring the New Frontier artists. The other two spaces offer a theater specially designed for the venue and a bar/lounge area for press interviews and parties. I spent most of my time in the gallery and saw two short films during our visit.

We arrived at noon, which is when the venue’s doors open. Immediately, I asked for the box office because I knew Coral: Rekindling Venus screened at 1:00pm, and I hoped we could get on the waitlist. Being the first to arrive, we got on the waitlist with no problem. While we waited, the New Frontier volunteer staff helpfully explained the photographs of coral hanging nearby trigger an augmented reality app that takes you “inside” the photograph, animating it as if you are under the sea.

coral2     coral1

You can download the iOS app here or Android here and use the pictures I took to try it out. Click the thumbnails for larger images.

An hour later, we were lying down on mats and beanbags in a small planetarium, which reminded me of a yurt one might find at Burning Man. Inspired by the first collaboration among the international science community to witness the celestial transit of Venus in 1761, Lynette Wallworth’s Coral: Rekindling Venus is designed to nurture an emotional connection between a global audience and the planet’s endangered coral reefs. It has a trance inducing effect as one reclines, opening to ocean animals, including sea lions, deep sea bio-luminescent creatures, and of course, stunning time-lapse coral shots.

Prior to the screening, Evans & Sutherland, the company that created the planetarium, offered a demonstration of the numerous projects using their technology. The demo was almost as interesting as the film, for it included examples of real time, interactive tools for teachers. My mother-in-law, a retired junior high school science teacher, looked like a kid in a candy store and marveled at how this technology will change how we teach science. Way cool.

Next to the planetarium was a wall scrawled with graffiti and donning a poster of a large rock. I immediately recognized the rock as the handy work of Yung Jake. Prior to our trip to Utah, I visited the Sundance New Frontier website to check out the artists. I discovered Yung Jake’s E.m-bed.de/d, a wild, truly innovative music video that takes over your browser. Seriously, click on the link above, hit play, watch the video, and then come back and read the rest of this.

yoongjakerockAfter I found Yung’s work, I followed him on Twitter and shared E.m-bed.de/d. Yung DMed me and offered a beta test of the app he’s premiering at Sundance. It’s a trippy, 3-D, interactive music video that plays on your phone or tablet called Augmented Real. You can download the iOS app here. (No word on Android.) Point your device at the rock image above and press play.

I’m only sad we left town before Yung played his live performances. He performed a sold-out show last night. If you caught the gig, let me know how it was. He has one more show tomorrow, January 24. It looks like there are still a few tickets left. You can buy them here. According to L.A. Weekly, Yung Jake, may very well end up being the breakout star of Sundance.

MoreFingerprints

Pulse Index, by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Pulse Index is an interactive art piece that does what I love most. It makes its audience into the art. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s installation records the heart rates and fingerprints of participants and displays them in a Fibonacci pattern. You place your finger into the custom-made sensor, and your fingerprint appears on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to your heartbeat. Your print then travels down the sequence to join those of all the others who have visited the room. The mosaic of pink prints cover the walls of the room, constantly shifting the energy of the space. It’s breathtaking.

PamChristyHundredsOfFingerprints

My wife and mother-in-law cheesing amongst the pixelated prints.

My favorite piece at New Frontier was What is He Building in There? Inspired by the Tom Waits song of the same name, Ricardo Rivera and the Klip Collective transformed the front facade of the New Frontier venue into a 3-D, projection-mapped parable. Lately, I’m a sucker for 3-D projection-mapping, and this Kafkaesque, existential concoction of live action and animation blew me away. On the surface, the building looks like the outside of a factory, but throughout the film, walls dissolve away and windows slide open, showing the never ending toil of a solitary worker building…something.

“What’s He Building In There?” Sundance 2013 New Frontier documentation from Klip Collective on Vimeo.

One of the best parts of this was when a woman approached the entrance of the building and she waited for the projection to “open the door.” When it “opened” and she tried to walk through the door, she discovered the actual door still blocked her way. A true testament to the projection’s precision.

I didn’t get to check everything out. I heard Eyjafjallalokull, a three-dimensional, audiovisual mapping, optical illusion installation inspired by the 2010 Icelandic volcanic eruption, was wonderful. We couldn’t get tickets to North of South, West of East which wraps the film around the entire room in a 20-seat theater with swivel chairs. And Cityscape 2095 placed spectators on the observatory deck of a skyscraper, where they take in an imaginary city as it glitters over the course of one day. It was super cool, but I couldn’t stand there all day to watch it change.

Cityscape 2095

Cityscape 2095 by Yannick Jacquet, Mandril, and Thomas Vaquiée

We arrived at Sundance on a wing and a prayer, and as luck would have it, we enjoyed most of the New Frontier exhibition. If you’re in Park City this week, I highly recommend checking these exhibitions out. It’s not a crowded as Main Street, the volunteers are more than happy to help you explore the interactive aspects of the art, and you might just have your mind blown.

It was definitely a high point of my week in the mountains of Utah. The only thing I’d do differently next time? Plan ahead and schedule more than one day at the festival. So little time. So much to see!

the lost children want you

Yesterday, I officially began blogging for Culturadar, an arts listings website for New York City. Here is my first post, which you can also read here.

Have you ever wondered what it is like inside a cult? I mean a true blue, alien believing, doomsday cult that blindly follows a single man anywhere he leads. How do they vet their members? What do they share with their inner circle? What is real, and how do they manipulate science to attract followers to their bizarre beliefs? And, what happens to someone after she is violently extracted from the cult in which she is deeply embedded?

In the 1970’s, if you had a loved one embedded in a cult, a man named Ted Patrick was your go-to-guy. He forcibly broke doors down, tied people up and kidnapped them from cults. The police couldn’t legally do anything about the brainwashed members inside these cults, so they let Patrick get away with it. This went on until the 1980’s when laws shifted, making Patrick’s actions extremely difficult. That’s when kidnapping convictions and lawsuits landed left and right. But that didn’t stop families from hiring extractors to rescue brainwashed loved ones.

EVIEIn the 1990’s, a young woman joined a cult, and her family hired a professional like Patrick to extract her. He forcibly kidnapped her and put her through a rigorous deprogramming process. She tricked the extractor into believing she was deprogrammed so she could return to the cult, but the cult rejected her because they believed she had been deprogrammed. The woman lost all her friends and grew exceedingly lonely. To deal with her loss, she sued her own parents for destroying her life – and won.

Inspired by this true story, director and story architect Mark Harris wrote The Lost Children, a film that tells the tale of Evelyn Hamilton, a party girl turned would-be messiah of the secretive Lost Children cult that believes they are aliens from another world and their mothership, hidden within the Tioga Comet, is approaching Earth. The film follows Evelyn’s journey from The Lost Children, to the hands of obsessed cult deprogrammer Jared Allen Tyler, a character inspired by Ted Patrick.

Once Harris completed the film, he decided to dive into the themes of belief and faith. He expanded the story world of the cult through a live, immersive event in which the audience moves between two spaces. The first space offers a fictional cult recruitment session where some audience may be targeted for advanced psychic testing. The second space is an interactive science lecture in which authentic scientists discuss the nature of comets, as well as the real possibilities of alien life in the universe.

CONVERGENCE

On January 22 and 28, Harris will fully realize his plans when The Film Society of Lincoln Center presents the New York premiere of both the film and immersive theater extension of The Lost Children in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center’s Amphitheater.

Bouncing between cult mythology and hard science, the audience will see two sides of this strange world before viewing the aftermath, which is the film. When I spoke with Harris, he shared his hopes for the New York premiere.

“I kind of want this big argument going on in everyone’s head,” said Harris. “More importantly, I’d like the argument going on in person. Then, they kind of come together in the film with that argument in their head already.”

When finding distribution for the film became challenging, Harris sought a way to get people’s attention. The film doesn’t show the inside of the cult, so he turned to immersive theater to tell that story. By putting the audience in the position of the protagonist, they discover a unique perspective that deepens their experience. The live event also helps with marketing the independent film, which doesn’t have the big PR budget of studio movies.

“I didn’t want my movie to get lost,” said Harris. “You can’t compete. I wanted to do something really unique to make it stand out.”

UntitledDepending on the event’s reception, Harris might return for more showings in the spring. There is a possibility of digital distribution of the film, but he anticipates he will retain the theatrical rights, which gives him control over the live experience and allows him to pop up cult recruitments wherever and whenever he wants. For now, there are only the two showings at The Film Society of Lincoln Center. If you want to find out what it’s like inside a cult, Mark Harris is offering a limited peek at the secrets of The Lost Children.

Just tell your family where you’re going, so they know where to send Ted Patrick if you disappear.

The premiere of The Lost Children is now sold out.
filmlinc.com/lostchildren

thelostchildrenmovie.com