Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Powers of Ten (1977)




A while ago,I came across this information:

"Btw, I had a duo with Gordon during that period, dubbed 'Pills for Ills' for the Wexner and Cleveland Cinematheque live performances of new film scores we had composed (to accompany two of Charles and Ray Eames' great films, 'Powers of Ten' and 'Tops') as part of the avant garage music/film series, for a couple consecutive years of its run"...
So I asked Phillip, for more...

"I met Gordon in the late '90s shortly after he moved to Columbus, Ohio where I have lived since 1990.
At the time, I was working in an 'art house' video rental store that was called Aardvark Video and he became a customer there. We soon became friends and shortly began to collaborate on the music/film scores.
I was then, and still remain, enamored of the Charles and Ray Eames films- some of which I saw as a child in my early school days- and I had recently rediscovered them after reading a book by Paul Schrader ('Schrader on Schrader') in which he devoted a section to them.
I had begun making music for short films a few years earlier, mainly by participating in an annual series called the Avant Garage Music and Film festival, which my friend Tim Lanza organized and ran for about 8 or 9 consecutive years.
The general concept of the series was to have several artists or groups compose new scores to accompany existing (often silent) short films, and to perform these live with the film screenings in a public venue for an audience.
I suggested to Gordon that we should attempt to re-score the Eames' films 'Powers of Ten' or "Tops",depending on his reaction to seeing them for the first time. We first watched 'Powers of Ten' and he responded immediately to it, even DJing along with it on this first viewing, if I remember things correctly.
He happened to have had some records already selected that- by sheer coincidence- seemed to work perfectly for the film, and we decided immediately that we would perform a new score based on this for the series. Gordon would perform with two turntables and I would be adding electric static and guitar noises. This was performed at the Wexner Center for the Arts and was well received.
We enjoyed the experience ourselves and decided to do another score for the Eames' film "Tops" the following year for the next installment of the series. Gordon was to be away during the dates of the actual performances, so he contributed to the score with a recording of a piano piece he had improvised some time earlier.
This piece also happened to accidentally work perfectly for a major section of the film and I found it easy to incorporate this into what was otherwise a drum and melodica-based score.
I performed it alone on melodica along with the recorded piano and drum pieces for the film screenings which occurred in Columbus and Cleveland, at the Wexner Center and the Cleveland Cinemateque, respectively.
The name 'Pills for Ills' was a purely ridiculous one I had chosen to use for this second collaboration of ours, partly because I believed I would have to present it myself in Gordon's absence and didn't want the ads to specifically list (or NOT list) him by name as appearing."

Between 1950 and 1982, Charles and Ray Eames made over 100 short films ranging from 1 to 30 minutes in length.
They also made slide shows and multiscreen presentations.
From 1953 is this visually stunning production,

A Communications Primer

Delightful.

Related article in Senses of Cinema

7 comments:

spaewaif said...

It would be interesting to know more about the actual music played,what piano recording was used for "Tops",the ideas engineered by the images,the structure behind the score...

Alexei Luthor said...

I'm glad you found Aardvark Video when you were in Columbus. I remember recommending it to you because that's where I rented my my movies like Passolini's Salo: 120 Days of Sodom and Kenneth Anger films. :0)

cndr said...

Paul Horton,is that you under the Alexei Luthor pseudonym? If so,it's nice to hear from you again.

spaewaif said...

Alexei,thanks for inspiring a new post!
;-)
My request Cindytalk compilations

Alexei Luthor said...

CNDR, drop me a line sometime. I may have some music you'd like that you might not already have... :0) Nice to hear from you again as well!

duncan thaw said...

cool post. power of imagination, innit.

cndr said...

this was definately one of my favourite projects in columbus,ohio.enjoyed working with philip.the tracks i used for this piece were (in order) -25 by panasonic (from the album kulma), lowtek Intro by panacea (from the album low profile darkness) these two were then followed by one side of a 12inch by local columbus musician daniel meyer gold.it was a untitled track on green vinyl (1996) an abstract piece,very crackly and worked nicely as the image zoomed back into the chicago park and disappeared inside the hand...