For 10 years, the Image Movement Sound Festival has featured creative talent from local colleges collaborating in the hopes of creating something different. And on Sunday, April 2, in the first part of this year's two-part program, that's exactly what the audience got: Different takes on how to mix and match media, different looks at modern life, and different degrees of success from the 11 different projects.
For my money, the most successful pieces belonged in the "image" category, as several of the films engaged and impressed with their use of new (or, at least, new to me) techniques. Chief among them is "All That Remains," in which Eastman PhD student Michaela Eremiasova's trippy musical composition offers a nearly perfect aural equivalent to IMS co-founder Stephanie Maxwell's hypnotic animation. Maxwell created the collection of images by etching/painting directly onto 35mm film, some reworked live action sequences and more. I could not take my eyes --- or ears --- off the six-minute work.
Also visually stunning, but in an entirely different way, is "[tides]" by composer Abby Aresty, filmmaker Matt Costanza, and choreographer Missy Pfohl Smith. Set to a beach soundtrack, the film warps the image of a group of dancers. Costanza plays with the light, or the absence thereof, to distort the figures into wave-like swirls. The result is striking, although the project could stand to be half as long --- even after five minutes, something new can become too familiar.
The multimedia piece "EXCESS" blends the best facets of modern dance, film, and sound. Five tiara-topped dancers wearing maid uniforms made of bubble wrap perform a routine with 17 wooden chairs as a disembodied voice recounts her visit to an acquaintance's garbage-filled apartment. Behind them a film plays,showing gigantic, undulating piles of trash. I immediately started considering what I own that I don't actually need.
If the goal of a work is to illicit a reaction from the audience, then "Repetitive Seams" ably succeeds. Sarah Lathrop's film explores the anxiety of a lonely older woman, mostly conveyed by the woman's harried pawing at her extensive collection of veil-covered dolls. It's the soundtrack by Abby Aresty, however, that really stands out: a constant, low-level hum frequently punctuated by bursts of ear-splitting shrieking. The result was physically discomforting, and if the point was to make me never want to become lonely or old, mission accomplished.
The Image Movement Sound 2006 Festival concludes Saturday, April 22, with a 7 p.m. performance installation by Sarah Lathrop and Ali Secrest and an 8 p.m. program of screen and multimedia works, both at Visual Studies Workshop, 31 Prince Street. Tickets are $5, students with ID free. www.imsfestival.org.