Thursday, 11 March 2010

Class Act - Vanishing Act

We launched Vanishing Act, the latest Flax anthology, on Wednesday night.

And now it's all over I can admit how nervous I was about the event. Because the anthology itself was a bit of an experiment - riffing off our standard audio files and playing with potentials of the spoken word - we'd decided to experiment a little with presenting it to people.

First there were the straight readings from the writers' back catalogue as it were, then we went into darkness to hear the audio tracks for people to form their own imagined and emotional responses to the work without any visual triggers.

Then we heard the audio tracks accompanied by films made by Morph Films, who had made five responses to the work. When I spoke to them about that process, Gareth talked of how much he enjoyed not thinking about what the client might want, but to just register his response to the piece and turn that into a visual response. He translated the rhythms of speech into visual rhythms, and sought out the less obvious elements to present. So not literal at all.

The evening finished with the creators of the work reading the pieces again. Reowning them, as it were. So the five pieces of Vanishing Act were heard three times. Risky. But it paid off. People really responded to the opportunity to hear a piece delivered in different ways and spoke of how strikingly different that made their own responses. I loved the theatricality of the event, especially the alertness of listening in the dark. But I think most of all I loved the sense of giving the writers a special present of a film of their work. I tried to watch each of them in the dark as they watched the film - for the first time - and lapped up their pleasure, surprise and interest in what they were watching. Okay, so we can't pay them for their work, but this really felt like some great alternative.

So, if you missed it, shame, but you can relive it in part by listening to each piece or watching the videos made in response to the poems.

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