Cinema for the Stage: Minimus 3D Arkestra
by Marcina Zaccaria
When it comes to movie-making, how do we take elements, pull them apart, and put them back together?
An inventive way to see film in the theater, the 55-minute Minimus 3D Arkestra brings the brilliance of two computer artists to the screen. Billed as a visual-sonic concert, the performance features live saxophone (with surround sound) and live mixing of computer graphics. Hayes Greenfield, composer, producer, and filmmaker and Ikuo Nakamura, award-winning Japanese filmmaker, are a surprising duo. At times, the show feels more like a “be in,” than a live concert. Nakamura, a holographic artist whose Aurora Borealis 3D was seen at the American Museum of Natural History, does a fine job creating visuals for the screen. With Minimus Arkestra, he seems to go above and beyond.
It seems like an extraordinary travelogue, featuring people from all over the world. No stone is left unturned, as rapid images feature dancing, walking across water, and climbing ancient mountains. Titles included “Frontiers,” “Fast,” and ”Paradox.” There is considerable attention paid to the phasing and blending of one image to another. The graphics for the project are often sped on the screen. Saturated colors blend into black and white images. Canyons in Utah follow scenes of Easter Island. Pigeons fly out onto the screen as crowds of people walk in New York City. Taxi cabs drive by too quickly, and average commuters flood Grand Central Station.
It’s all a bit whimsical. The audience seemed to be asked to breathe with the performers, who took a pause to discuss the titles in each sequence. The concert’s name, incidentally, is actually an homage to Sun-Ra, who called his ensemble an Arkestra. Greenfield, who released ten critically acclaimed CDs and performed in the US, Canada, and Europe, seemed very at home at 13th Street Repertory Theater. Something about the improvisatory jazz met every standard of Village charm, but never seemed to match the vast landscapes on the screen. Smooth riffs from the saxophone were welcoming, but repetitive.
The overall experience is refreshing, though. With no problem explaining why and how they put the show together, Greenfield and Nakamura provide less of a mystery with Minimus 3D Arkestra, and more an honest showing of what you can do with ingenuity, time, and a great appreciation of aesthetics.
Minimus 3D Arkestra is running until July 30th at 13th Street Repertory Theater, (50 West 13th Street). To reserve tickets, call Ovation Tix Box office at 866-811-4111. Additional information can be found at www.13thstreetrep.org