The Gentleman Loser

Thoughts and Musings of a Loser

Exploding Kitten GodheadSo I’ve started going to these Starlight Cinema events at the UW union building. They generally do a good job of pushing the boundaries of the little container in my brain that stores fucked-up shit. This show was no different.

I arrived late, as is, unfortunately, usually the case due to my work schedule. Approching the Play Circle theatre, I could tell the show was midway through, due to the loud droning noise of feedback coming from behind the walls. I knew this was, very possibly, going to be one of the more difficult things I have taken the time to bear witness to. Still, I found an open seat in the front row and took it.

Seemingly random bars of light flickered at seizure-inducing speeds on the the screen as the loud droning feedback squelched from all speakers. Now I figure I should try to explain to you, the reader, exactly what this show is supposed to be. See, there is a line of thinking that through auditory (espeially if there is a specific frequency offset between each speakers) and visual stimulation, one can effect a change in the subject’s brainwave patterns that goes beyond simple viewer engagement. Unfortunately, this usually means that the stimiulation is increadibly noisy (and loud, as to drown out competing stimulation), there is structure, but it is not pleasant to listen to. The video below will give you an idea.

What was interesting, was that the video imagery shown was not some random computer flashes, as I had expected. Instead, the performer, Daid Linton, had a number of different objects rotating on turntables with camera’s aimed at them (candles, glass spheres, cat heads…more on that in a bit). For additional light (and specific frequency strobing as well) was a TV monitor flashing bars of static (sometimes through a color gel that he would put in front of it). All of this feeding into a video mixer produced the images we saw on the screen. The audio, however, appeared to be a series of tracks being cued up on a computer screen.

After about a half hour of staring at the screen, it happened. I started to feel my brain slip off into an altered-state. Something was slushing it’s way up from the bottom of my brain stem, and my mind stated to become diffuse. It was almost as if my proprioception shifted so that my body extended across the room. It was pretty interesting, but then the sound in the tone took a shift for the darker, and feedback stated building into an overwhelming sound that started to reel me back in. Then it happened. On the screen, there was the GIANT KITTEN EXPLODING GODHEAD. An image of a vauge torso with a plastic cat’s head, visual feedback flowing off of the head in two directions somehow in sync with the building feedback of the noise that surrounded me. With a shock like that, you can do little else than be yanked right back into reality.

Looking around the theatre, I saw peoples faces illuminated in the pale light reflecting off of the screen. Their muscles slack, jaws open, minds somewhere else. After a little while longer, the intensity of the audio and video started to subside, and it wound down to a pleasant, medatative atmosphere. The sound started to fade out, and the little table of cameras and light faded down and the show drew to a close. Lights still dim, crowd silent, David blows out a candle, and like the final cleansing rite to some elaborate ritual, the crowd is released from his spell, and comes back, minds returned to the limitations of space and time.

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