Cardiff-based 4pi which has blazed the trail of combining dance and 360 degrees video in an immersive experience. This latest project Liminality Live uses. film, music and dance to span the gulf between Wales and India as well as the space above our heads.
The large temporary dome-screen was erected by 4pi partner CULTVR inside the sexily called Rehearsal Room Three at Wales Millennium Centre, on which the film was shown while live electronic music, composed to accompany the dance and the film, was played.
Mention of India-Wales Year of Culture 2017 is necessary just to explain why the film is a mixture of India and Wales and the nationality of the dancers.
The two dancers, Kim Noble from Wales and Manas Sharma from India, performed, sometimes in synchronicity with the film, sometimes independently, sometimes in one or other of two circle which have moving light around them. It started and finished with red light and a heartbeat rhythm. During the dance white light revolved around the circles. Particularly strong was the start, before the film kicked in, as the female dancer uses her physicality to react and interact with the pulses. The film then starts.
The dance was consistently gorgeous and the video interesting and at times beautiful as it gave us, put simply, a look at the two cultures and their own present and past, modernity and tradition, industrial urban and rural, cities and coastlines and, of course, a taste of dance traditions. So we have scenes of bustling India, traffic, the ugly modern mixed with the crumbling old, even an elephant that performs to the soundtrack, scenes from Wales, ecclesiastical ruins, lush woodland, a woodland pool, waves crashing on a rocky coast, all with our live dancers also appearing (with others) on the video. Just as we see two physical worlds of similarity and difference, the dance styles are a melding and a contrast of more conventionally Western and Indian traditional dance tropes.
Long sponsors’ speeches after the showing impressed upon us the work’s significance. I am sure they are correct. To an audience what matters is the actual work and here the live dance was a combination of elegance and what seemed deceptive simplicity, coolly executed, occasionally jarring and full of surprises. In the film the dance had a different feel, at times more remote and spiritual, at others almost quirky and fun. Visually the styles show an art form in the exciting stage of experiment and development, energetic confidence and bold playfulness. There are moments when less may have been a little more, when effects detract rather than adds but it is never anything but stimulating and inventive.
It is was an interesting experience and enjoyable but as an audience member it didn’t quite work, basically because of the space, particularly seating and ambiance. It accentuated the problem of trying to become immersed in the film (pun intended) while also trying to appreciate and engage with the two wonderfully fluid and mesmerising dancers.
This is also a pity as it is the live dance and the film screening that is special. Indeed, the dance does stand on its own artistically. But we have seen lots and lots of examples now of dance links between Indian and Wales. It is this innovative use of this but rapidly growing technology combined with artistry to create immersive experience that makes this venture of interest.
This was the European premiere of Liminality Live so sponsors aplenty were in attendance and that meant speeches that lasted almost as long as what the audience came to see.
This is another impressive journey by Matt Wright and Janire Najera, who run Cardiff-based 4Pi, as they surf the technology of immersive film (all around us – although here mainly above).
Liminality Live was presented as part of Diffusion 2019, organised by Ffotogallery, an organisation the funding to develop photography in Wales. It goes on all of April. I now know that his is the fourth outing of a biennial event and this year looks at the relationship between photography and video and sound. (A link is below).