DARCY JAMES ARGUE
DARCY JAMES ARGUE’S SECRET SOCIETY
DARCY JAMES ARGUE
Brooklyn Babylon is a multimedia performance that uses live instrumental music, animation, and live painting as its language of expression and communication. All three elements are presented onstage simultaneously, and work in concert to present the central narrative: a story about the highest tower in the world being constructed in the heart of futuristic Brooklyn. The main character, an old carpenter named Lev, is commissioned to create an elaborate carousel to crown the top of the monumental building.
The music, performed by Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, compliments the visual aesthetic, seamlessly combining and juxtaposing influences from a variety of genres and time periods, functioning as an equal partner with the projections and live painting in creating the narrative. The animation follows the characters through a decaying metropolis where past, present, and future melt together in a decaying urban labyrinth. The atmosphere resembles that of silent movies from the 1920’s, with sharply contrasting light and shadow, expressive gestures and movements, and minimal use of text. The live painting is created on a large horizontal panel attached to a scaffold above the screen. Black and white acrylic paint is applied with large brushes and rollers. Each painting gradually evolves from the abstract towards the figurative, and then slowly dissolves into the next image. The painting mixes a Baroque chiaroscuro aesthetic with graffiti and wall-writing textures.
Commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2011 Next Wave Festival and was supported by a grant from The MAP fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Brooklyn Babylon was developed and received a preview performance at SUNY Purchase, Wiley Hausam, Executive Director. PERFORMANCES 2017 tour – Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State. Additional funding is provided by Meet the Composer, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council for the Arts, a state agency.
“Mr. Žeželj’s sweeping animation… Mr. Argue’s orchestra is an eighteen-piece marvel of multi-instrumental versatility...the end result is an impressive narrative that offers visual splendor and musical majesty of the type not often experienced, a tour de force."
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