Joints 4tet for Ensemble, 1971 - 2010
Super 8mm film transferred to video, 4 channel video, colour. 4 channel sound using material recorded by John Cage, 10 Sony monitors, 4 studio monitors, metal stands, programmed projection lights and 4 flash players
duration, 13:12 mins
Joints 4tet for Ensemble (1971-2010), an installation of Super-8 colour films of the dancer Merce Cunningham shot by Atlas in 1971. One afternoon, after rehearsal in Irvine, California, Merce Cunningham and Charles Atlas went out of the back door of the dance studio to a raised concrete dock and started to film. As Cunningham articulated his joints in a minimal dance Atlas filmed in a variety of ways with his new Super-8 camera, shooting close-ups of Cunningham’s wrist, elbow, ankle, and knee. The films capture Cunningham’s unique style of movement. Atlas experimented with different frame rates and levels of blur, but mainly focused on following Cunningham’s moving joints as if carefully observing a strange animal. Atlas cannot entirely recall all the circumstances surrounding the filming, only that it was purely experimental. The artists made nine short films in total, most of which were extended continuous hand-held shots.
For the installation Joints 4tet for Ensemble, Atlas brings the resulting films together for the first time, editing the material into four channels of synchronized video and showing them across a choreographed arrangement of ten different sized monitors; some placed on mono-stands, some on rolling carts, and others grouped in pairs. With this configuration of monitors Atlas harks back to ideas first used in 1978 in the creation of Fractions I and Fractions II; a video/dance collaboration he made with Cunningham. Each monitor is orchestrated to broadcast the observation of an autonomous trail within the overall choreography of the group; reflecting Atlas’ ongoing interest in tracking the movement of dancers in and around a studio. The visual elements of Joints 4tet for Ensemble are accompanied by four channels of collaged sound. These are reworkings of ambient sound recordings made by John Cage in the 1980s whilst on his travels to cities around the world with his long-term partner Merce Cuningham. As the sound plays out across the monitors, projection lamps cast multiple and shifting shadows over the surrounding walls of the installation.