Sunday, April 3, 2011

Alien Occurences

Downtown Los Angeles' Million Dollar Theater, one of the first movie palaces built in the United States, is the site this weekend to the indescribable extra-terrestrial theatrical-hybrid event Tempest: Without a Body.  The theater is not unfamiliar with apocalyptic sci-fi (which Tempest both embodies and transcends), as it's exterior was featured prominently in Blade Runner (another site for two of the films most memorable set pieces, the Bradbury Building, is directly across the street), but this stormy meditation on not only Shakespeare's haunting drama of institutional enslavement, the ravages of history (both personal and political), and the corruption of power (and its sustaining abuse) explodes its ghostly history.  This is a work that unleashes tableux of Goya-esque human horrors (approps of the building's Spanish heritage) and then offers, in shafts of bright light, the possibility of an utopian beyond.  It is activist theater of the Pure kind - reaching deep inside the witness, and forcing them to contemplate history from not only a political point of view, but a personal, spiritual one.  

The auteur behind this, Lemi Ponifasio, a New Zealand choreographer, director, and designated high priest, asserts Tempest is "a theatrical meditation on life after 9/11."   Its avoidance of any specific metaphors or allusion we may attach to that concept, renders it reflection of the "state of things" more urgently vital and ultimately, timeless - much like Shakespeare.  Growing out of ancient, Oceanic mythology, it takes the viewer to a realm of beings whose inner landscapes take on grotesque physical form, as in one of the most stunning images - a man who emerges from the dark with an impossible physicality that reminds one of something out of the most terrifying alien invasion scenario.  Using a "miracle theater" aesthetic against a subtle but effective mix of new technology, it lingers with an unshakeable furor, and there will be much more to comment upon...


Eduardo Soto de Moura won the Pritzer Prize this past week (architecture's Academy Award of sorts).
He may be best known for this defiant stadium structure that abuts a rock quarry in Spain.

According to this list, it's one of the 12 Strangest Stadiums in the World.


Katy Perry's new video directed by Floria Sigismondi (and featuring a verse by Kanye West), takes its cue from Lady Gaga's outer-body visual contortions.  Gaga's firm grasp of the inevitable 360 conception of pop music today has initiated a game of one-upmanship that despite its unrelenting insistence (and being two decades too late - see Gaga's unackownledged precursor, Leigh Bowery) feels like a healthy antidote to the safe, teasing charm of the genre's recent past.  The actual base content of the sonics of the genre has remained unremarkable, but the production loop-de-loos keep getting crazier and crazier, taking the post-synthetic sound far past its logical conclusion.

And nobody does it better than that most alien of glam concepts, "Britney Spears" - a surface for pornographic (and one might say, misogynistic) projection that has brought forth the most freakish ambitions of the world's best producers.  The new album released this past week is called "Femme Fatale" but it should actually be "Femme-Bot," re-inverting Robyn's feminist co-option of the term.  Kanye West's idea of alien sex on his verse for the Perry song is here in full display.  Spears non-voice is warped into innumerable non-human forms amidst electro dance bangers, taking suga suga into a plastic void that is disorientating, alienating, and ultimately, seductive.  More to come...

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