ArtBeat: The OpenEnded Group’s “Upending” @ EMPAC, 3/25/10

Glittering, decayed textures dissolve into webs of extraordinary light.

White lines of an apartment schematic hover and transform through space around a window showing the moon.

“Which way is down? It’s up to you.”

Upending” is a new 3D film, created by the OpenEnded Group, that premiered last night (Thursday) at EMPAC. A meditation on space, absence and weightlessness, it’s breathtaking, ambitious and challenging.

Points of glowing energy extrude into lines and coalesce to form images of a chair, a tree, two dancers, a building. At times reminiscent of electrons, or neurons, the effect is one of living, light-filled energy hovering between the abstract and the representational. Combined with the swooping, inorganic camera movements and constantly shifting perspectives, the work strives to disorient the audience; a sort of filmic Cubism on steroids.

The soundtrack, recorded at EMPAC by the FLUX Quartet, is a quadraphonic rendering of Morton Feldman’s first String Quartet and features delicate, dreamlike moments of dissonance interspersed with silence. Feldman is noted (and still controversial) for the marathon length of his compositions, requiring almost superhuman levels of listener concentration and stamina.

Described by one of its creators as “harrowing,” the imagery follows suit; it’s up to each viewer to perceive and construct meaning. At 90 minutes with no intermission, the film requires engagement and endurance (and the quietness of the soundtrack served to amplify the sounds of the restless audience) but its slow, fragile beauty is ultimately rewarding. If you’ve got what it takes, there are showings again tonight (Friday) at 7pm and tomorrow (Saturday) at 2pm.

Second opinions: Read Joseph Dalton’s review for the Times Union.

Intrigued? We’re giving away a pair of tickets for the Saturday showing.

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