Kerry

 

 

 

 

Electric Salome, an expanded cinema work, is part of the City Luminous Series

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Image: Kerry Laitala

Sound: Voicehandler, (Jacob Heule and Danishta Rivero)

This dual projector expanded cinema, projector performance work was performed at the following venues:

Artists' Television Access

Shapeshifter's Cinema

Oddball Cinema

The Gray Area, (SF Cinematheque)

Electric Salome featured dancer Jenny Stulberg and the work is part of a series that was made iin celebration of the centennial of the Panama Pacific International Exhibition.

 

The City Luminous: Electric Salome is an expanded cinema/projector performance I’ve staged several times, never quite the same way twice but always involving two projections of images and a soundtrack by Oakland-based electronic music duo Voicehandler (Jacob Huele and Danishta Rivero). The images center around a dancer performing in the style of the “Electric Salome” herself, Loie Fuller. Historians have identified Fuller as the first person to project moving colored lights over a dancer’s costume; in fact she designed an outfit specifically designed to capture light, transforming its wearer into the illusion of an otherworldly figure like a giant butterfly or erupting volcano. She held patents on stage innovations such as an under-lighting pedestal that would shine up through her voluminous costume, and her swirling movements with titles such as the Serpentine Dance have become immortalized by 1890s-era cinematic documentation, usually of her many imitators.

 

Fuller’s presence at the PPIE, and her role in helping secure funds to preserve the Palace of Fine Arts when the rest of the Exposition City was torn down soon after the fair ended in late 1915, inspired me to recreate her choreographed apparitions for the 20th Century. I recreated an under-lighting pedestal, filmed a dancer (Jenny Stulberg) from multiple camera angles, then optically printed and edited the footage into something that my sound collaborators could create a score to. When performing, I combine these images of my dancer with other archival images I’ve collected relating to the PPIE, and intervene with the projections in real-time, splitting and spreading the images out over the screen and beyond for the maximal spectacular visual experiencTechniques and innovations that Fuller patented and employed in her performances verged on the cinematic and included using a complex set up of mirrors as a back-drop, dancing against a black floor and background which was lit by a wheel of projected coloured lights, dancing over a glass trap-door lit by red light to create the sensation of being engulfed by flame in the finale of her Fire Dance (1895). As well as designing all of her own silk costumes, Fuller experimented with glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent paints and other toxic chemicals which caused her to become ill, and would unfortunately lead to her demise. Fuller and her work continue to be an influence on contemporary dancers such as Jody Sperling and Ann Cooper Albright who draw on Fuller's dances and effects for their own choreography.

 

This pastiche of dance choreography is the creation of Jenny Stulberg, with a cinematic interpretation by K. Laitala. Jenny is dancing on a specially constructed platform that was underlit in a similar fashion to one that La Loie would have used.

Voicehandler creates an original score that reverberates and mesmerizes, and surprisingly, is not mired by traditional notions of melody. This work transcends modern dance accompaniments through its uncanny rhythms and resonance.

 

The City Luminous Series was Funded by a Princess Grace Foundation Special Projects Grant (2015)

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