Two Lights and a Black Backdrop

Yikes! I started to type and was blindsided by a funky font I was using for another project. SF Digital Readout. In 72 point. The shock was compounded by the fact that tonight, once again, I’m using my new video projector to shoot the image of my monitor on my wall at 96 inches. At least I had stopped with that magenta font color or I might be flopping on the floor, blindly scrambling for my cell phone and 911.

I wimped out and didn’t make it to the MLK march over on the east-side on Monday. Fact is, I didn’t drag my carcass out of the house until well after noon.

Instead, I spent the morning sipping coffee and dicking around on the internet. I’ve been duly impressed by the clarity of picture I can got off my projector when watching Hulu and Netflix on my computer off my cable modem via wi-fi. I found myself wondering if the servers on free video hosting sites can handle such clean and lush transfer rates with all their user provided content. And so I cruised over to Vimeo–they’ve always been about quality of picture. Impressive! I actually got swallowed up watching a run of randomly selected pieces which I splashed on my wall. Here’s a cool interactive projected art piece from, I believe, New Zealand:

There’s a brilliance, I think, in the simplicity of that piece. The concept of allowing members of the audience to be a central part of the performance is certainly nothing new, but it’s the execution of this piece which I find so liberating. As I watched this, I came up with an interesting idea for an interactive dance piece on a smaller scale which I think I could pull off with the help of a few friends.

The bottom line is that when you own a 3000 lumen video projector, everything seems to be a potential canvas. The other day I was trying to get to the grocery store, but as I was on the south-side, I had to deal with the trains. I was waiting for one to pass on S. Flores near Gallista Gallery. It then occurred to me that this was a fascinating moving canvas, with surface colors, textures, and shapes constantly changing. I’m now suddenly keen on creating a projection work near a train track. Gallista. La Tuna. Sunset Station. Just get me a dependable train schedule, and I’ll be there.

I don’t know why the folks behind the San Antonio Contemporary Arts Month changed the time from July to March, but they’re morons. I mean, what a wonderful time of the year to embrace contemporary art–the dead of summer. In the past there were so many extraordinary outdoor events at night. The summer. The fucking summer. Hell, yeah! You put these things on in March, and folks will be cold, and probably wet. I could say something similar about Luminaria, but no one’s listening to my opinion.


Early Monday evening I was at C4 with Seme. I wanted some tight shots of her choreography on video for the projection next week at Jump-Start. My plan was to hang some black drapery from a couple of C stands to give a neutral backdrop. Todd saw me doing this, and came to my rescue with some equipment that proved more appropriate. For the lighting, I ran a bell light up on a C stand. It pointed down–a 200 watt bulb, frosted and gelled green. Deborah showed up with this badass 1K light we had used when shooting Danielle doing her fire dancing back in December. I made some vague suggestion that she place it at a right angle to Seme and run it up rather high. She did something like that, didn’t care for it, and dropped the lamp down to about four feet off the floor, and pulled it in a bit to soften the angle. Perfect! What I was wanting to do was to, as simply as possible, emulate the style of theatrical lighting. The fact is, I like working with one or two lights so as to generate loads of shadows. I think between me and Deborah we achieved a nice set-up. I took just a few still images. But I think this one kicks ass:


I hope Seme doesn’t mind. The video we’d been shooting was very close. Mostly images of her hands. I think she wasn’t prepared for shots of her face. Personally, I think she looks great. I was shooting the stills with my GH-1 with a Nikkor 50mm lens, probably open all the way. I’m a bit squeamish here because the image is slightly out of focus. This might have been a situation where I would have benefited from the automatic lens that came with the camera.

But I digress. Come on out and see Seme Jatib’s performance. There will be some video by yours truly. Wednesday Jan. 27. I believe it starts at 7pm. Get the info at the Jump-Start website. It only costs 5 bucks. Also, there will be works in progress by two other performers, Maggie Lasher and Laurie Dietrich.

Yep. That’s where you need to be next Wednesday. Jump-Start.

And don’t forget, this weekend is the first of a four-part site-specific performance cycle, collectively called Request Concert. The first offering is from the incredible S.T. Shimi (dancer, actor, writer, administrator, and from what I understand, a damn fine chef). I’m planning to book my ticket, maybe tomorrow. They’re limited, so order NOW–I hope I’m not too late.


2 thoughts on “Two Lights and a Black Backdrop

    • You’re behind the curve, I guess. In one of my previous entries I actually provided a photo of my laptop, external monitor, and, in the background, the projection of my computer’s screen on the wall. Kind of freaky. Kind of fun. Yep. I’m doing it right now. Simply put, it’s unseemly. But Martha does it all the time with those blowtorches across the tops of crème brulée. Lately I guess I’m embracing excess.

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