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Cinema, Live Onstage

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"It's about ritual," says Finnish live cinema artist Mia Makela (aka Solu) talking about why she chooses to perform live with moving images and sound rather than simply create a linear film or video project to screen in theaters. "It's about sharing an experience with an audience." The artist performed Kaamos Trilogy last Saturday night in LA, and as a surprise, invited the group DuoDenum, comprised of Carmina Escobar and Scott Collins, to perform along with her. The effect of their collaboration was nothing less than riveting, mainly because it was indeed live and very much improvised. Makela, Collins and Escobar met only hours before the performance, and had to hope that their sensibilities would mesh onstage. They did. The musicians brought an array of objects with which to make sound, the most powerful being a large dish of water that sloshed and dripped as the story's heroine waded through waves. Escobar's clear, haunting voice also captivated, and while you'd think that watching the musicians in tandem with the mix of video imagery would catapult you right out of the story, it instead created a sense of greater acuity. But why?

That question will get asked again tonight when the group known as Cloud Eye Control performs its own mix of live performance and multimedia. The LA-based group is made up of Chi-wang Yang, Miwa Matreyek and Anna Oxygen, and tonight (and through Sunday) they will present Under Polaris, described as "an epic journey into an Arctic wonderland," mixing projected animation, electronic music and theater. While I haven't yet seen the performance, I think the same tension will exist between a story unfolding in front of you alongside an awareness of the artists creating that experience. There's something so powerful about sliding back and forth between the story and the awareness of its telling. Read more about the group and the performance here, and buy tickets here. Image: from Under Polaris.

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