Alessandro Amaducci‘s video dance work, Concert for Shadows 1-10, is a darkly evocative journey through mindscapes both lyrical and chaotic, straightforward and abstract. It is a dichotomy grounded in the viewer’s natural resonance with the dancer/choreographer Eurinome’s nude body and expressive face. Yet even this foothold provides little purchase in a realm where the recognizably human form may morph into a headless creature of multiple limbs, shimmer and flow like water, or become a phantom described by a digital overlay that seems to exist somewhere between lacy adornment and an x-ray view of bodily structures.
Concert for Shadows 1-10 is an exemplary work, melding dance and technology into an alloy that withstands the exploration of some of the larger themes of human existence, of struggle and survival, elevation and decline, at the same time effectively mirroring the microcosm of individual human interior and exterior experience. Movement and image create a solidly integrated form that attains a rare equilibrium, and results in a particularly well-functioning vehicle to convey concepts. The third vital element of sound has been partially outsourced through the processing of pre-existing scores. In the main this approach is successful, with the rhythms of visual effects, the dancer’s movement and sound mutually supporting and enhancing each other. There are brief segments when the music can seem questionably epic, as though, as with some mid twentieth century film soundtracks, the viewer can be manipulated into a more significant emotional spike than might otherwise have been experienced. However, these momentary lapses do little to impede the video’s overall success. Despite any minor flaws, Concert for Shadows 1-10 is obviously an evolutionary creature with a substantial and conceptually disquieting life of its own.
The video commences in shifting darkness coordinated to the sounds of vintage technology, the crackling of a scratched LP record. There is an abrupt break to full music and an image of the dancer, Eurinome, contracted into a fetal-like pose, her tense face and body superscribed by moving columns of digits or momentarily frozen in the spotlight of intense digital flares. She eventually unfurls but without escaping this encompassing bodily tension. Abstracted by lighting that serves to create a high contrast between shadows and highlights, her body is in part obscured and externally manipulated, as it will remain for much of the rest of the video. Unlike a live dance performance or documentary concert video, the technique of consecutive still images of the choreography provides an impression of movement similar to that used in stop motion animation and gives additional creative control to the video editor/director. From the beginning, Concert for Shadows 1-10 is as much or more a result of the digital choices used to animate and illuminate the dancer’s body as it is the performer‘s time based ability to locomote expressively through a physical space.
Eurynome Creates the Cosmos (Elsie Russell)
In each of the concert’s ten segments, Eurinome interacts with digitally imposed forms to progress through trials that segue between a recognizably physical world and an inner realm of consciousness where notions of normal reality have little place. Her choreography symbolically mirrors and reacts to these changes through recurring bodily expansion and contraction. The dancer’s commencement in a fetal pose is followed by vertical movements that bespeak strength and assertiveness but again contract horizontally within the parameters of technology, defined through visual overlays. In one significant segment her return to the vertical meets an onslaught of falling dust and fragments, as though overhead an off camera architectural structure rained debris. It is a threatening world where the performer must remain tense throughout, whether curled protectively in upon herself, or seemingly poised for combat, struggling to contain the elemental forms of water and fire or overlain by a screen of bullet shattered glass.
The total nudity of the dancer’s body in Concert for Shadows 1-10 does more than provide a suitably blank canvas to inscribe with light, but rather is intrinsic to a successful integration of digital manipulation and concept with form. The body unclothed, this basic denominator of human life, is the individual clarified and made timeless. The tense strength of the performer’s internally initiated movements, underscored in flesh and muscle, also provides a rather unique version of the powerful female nude that is in subtle opposition to most contemporary examples of female beauty and/or eroticism. While nudity may be used to emphasize vulnerability, in this work it does double duty as a means to convey strength in the onslaught of surreal and apocalyptic visions, thus elevating the solo figure to a near mythic status that calls to mind the nude sculptures of classical antiquity. It also represents the logical meeting point for the worlds of external and internal force, outside the skin and within, a theme of dichotomies that seems to propel this work throughout.
Art has always sought to make visible the invisible, acting as a shared medium to open the isolated interior world of individual consciousness to the minds of others, whether that individual vision be an appraisal of what the eye perceives, an attempt to convey conceptual processes, or a means to invoke emotional states. The technical innovation of the digital arts, with their facility of image creation and manipulation, provides a previously unparalleled means of partaking of another’s vision, a communication that moves beyond many material confines into a realm precariously poised on the brink of shared mind. The visual fusion of the human body and abstract images to create Concert for Shadows 1-10 epitomizes an uneasy sense of seeing through another’s eyes, of dreaming in tandem with another mind. At the same time the work sounds an ambivalent note of alarm about the means that created it, using overt symbols like the oppressive overlay of resonating waveforms and charts or repeated visual cues such as the eponymous shadows that darken this world with a pervading anxiety.
Concert for Shadows 1-10 is a work that both requires and merits more than a single viewing in order to grasp the multiple layers intertwined in the creation of its intriguing harmonies and dissonances. Together these form a strangely resilient armature from which to suspend concepts resonant with the classical physics of Newton’s third law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It is a maxim that could also be seen as a universal metaphor, characterizing the many near archetypal ideas that are the underpinning of our frequently bilateral human understanding.
Diana Heyne’s multidisciplinary work has been performed and exhibited across the United States, Europe and Asia. She holds a fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in the United States. Heyne is the recipient of awards and fellowships for work in sculpture, performance, writing and music. Her art is found in public and private collections in the United States and Europe and her work in natural materials features in books published by the New York Botanical Gardens, Chicago Botanical Gardens and a PBS television documentary on the New York Botanical Gardens. She currently lives and works in France.