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Origins Matter: Towering Images


Posted November 9, 2011

Setting up for rehearsal at MCA Stage, Nov. 8, 2011

One intriguing and visually stunning aspect of The Matter of Origins performance is the large imagery projected on five curved screens that form a half-circle onstage. These dramatic images tower over the dancers and add an unexpected layer to the stage production. I talked with filmmaker and projection designer Logan Kibens about the development of these images.

Logan Kibens with Liz Lerman at CERN. photo courtesy of Logan Kibens

Kibens shared with Liz Lerman the films she created as a student at CalArts, to initiate a visual language early in the creative process. They traveled to CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) with a dancer to collect images while exploring the facilities and tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider. Kibens said, “I wanted to shoot CERN and other elements like a landscape film, with long, static, tightly-composed shots that let the environment play out inside of them. You can see this technique and effect in the “Genesis” section of Origins, where the dancers move among the “towering giants” of the LHC tunnels and detectors.” CERN was one of many locations the group visited to capture a variety of images on film.

Kate Freer programming images with Isadora. photo courtesy of Logan Kibens

During several workshops with Liz and the dancers, Kibens and Isadora programmer Kate Freer threw images up on the screen to see how they integrated with movements on stage. Through this improvisational process, Kibens selected the final images for the performance. Three projection units display the images, using Isadora software that allows pre-programming and spontaneous cues based on the dancers’ moves. Kibens describes one of her favorite moments as “a long, slow zoom into what looks like a series of circular windows, and is in fact the inside of an old bubble detector on the CERN campus. The movement of these shapes receding over the curved projection screens while the dancers move in unison in front of them creates a strange sense of vertigo, depth and movement as an audience member, which I loved playing with.”

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