Opera. Sound installation. Cinema.
In his 1965 essay Snakeskin, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman compared art to a snakeskin full of ants; long dead, devoid of poison, yet feverishly animated by scavengers. Out of this pessimistic view was born his 1966 film Persona, which addresses the vampyric relationship between art and reality, and questions the idea of an authentic self by suggesting that our identities are interchangable and contingent, like masks to be worn and discarded. 50 years on, doubts about art’s relevance haven’t diminished, and in the digital age of online avatars and multiple screen selves, the issue of a fragmented identity is all the more present.
Another Other transplants a radical, layered re-reading of these themes over the structure of Persona, in an audiovisual performance that fuses elements of experimental opera, electroacoustic sound installation and expanded cinema. It eschews narrative for formal interplay of sound and vision, imagining each as a ‘character’, and inserts the spectator within the work to create an environment of imposed, disorientating intimacy. In cannibalising the temporal framework of the original film whilst shedding its dramatic content, Another Other highlights the operations of the various masks, screens and skins that serve as ambiguous markers of our identity. Through moments of darkness, silence and sensory overload, it fluctuates between speculative self-reflection and the ecstatic saturation of sound and image that characterises contemporary media society. Somewhere between utopia, dystopia, tribute and critique, Another Other presents a shaking of the illusion of the self as by turns an unsettling and darkly comical, but above all a physical, experience.
“Another Other is a riveting and fragmented series of micro movements, collectively composed to merge filmic and musical elements just as characters’ identities merge in Bergman’s film. This hyper-expanded cinematic experience shows our mental life to be a complicated mesh of meaning, open to interpretation…. Like the ego, Another Other is impossible to unpack methodically; there’s no narrative thread. This courageous and bold artwork feasts on the art of Persona before the clocks stop and finally there is silence inside the self.”
Presented by Chamber Made Opera in collaboration with Punctum and the New Music Network
Commissioned by Chamber Made Opera with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, Sue Kirkham and Charles Davidson.
2014: Preview Season, Punctum’s ICU, Castlemaine (4 – 7 December)
2014: Creative Development, SIAL Studios, RMIT Design Hub Melbourne (November)
2014: Creative Development, Italy and Germany (July)