Communikey 2012 travelogue

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
Offthesky at ATLAS Institute

The third night of the musical events of Communikey required getting to the HQ early to pick up a ticket for the TRINITY show. It began with Offthesky who sat at the line where the front row faced the screen and projected images and controlled the sound. The black and white footage of waves crashing into shore in slow motion was accompanied by low frequency thrums and higher tone drones. The image looked like intentionally damaged/treated film where shadows and light seemed to mar the image a bit, not unlike footage found in some stash of film secreted away in Berlin in the 1920s from the Expressionist era.

From there, the footage evolved, and at one point, it was a grass field with red spluming from the center like a paradoxically casual geyser of blood. The sounds at this point were impressionistic and following a pattern like the complex systems logic of raindrops before the storm proper. The recurring visual theme was a kind of energy vortex/mysterious natural phenomenon, like a manifestation of ley lines opening up into a circular loci that glowed with an inner light at various points of the landscape.

The final section of footage looked like something right out of a sequel to Cloverfield, except it was in mostly black and white, and the scenes looked like one slide out of time in 3D, with the perspective switching and moving in and out of the landscape, so that soldiers with particle beam weapons floated in air, some fired into the distance. A vehicle could be seen to have rushed off a bridge and buildings were in mid-collapse. But most striking was the giant creature with teeth and red eyes, ravenous and ready to strike.

Tom Murphy
Lustmord and Biosphere at ATLAS Institute

The Lustmord and Biosphere collaboration, with both men at their laptops, started off with textured white sound and low frequency flow and scenes of what could have been landscapes shot while traveling along I-40 in New Mexico. After the show, someone who was there when some of the footage was shot revealed that it was, indeed, New Mexico, but probably closer to the places where the nuclear testing had been done in the 40s.

Tom Murphy
Lustmord and Biosphere at ATLAS Center

During one section, the famous speech given by J. Robert Oppenheimer on building the atomic bomb came over the speakers. You know, the part where he references the Bhagavad Gita and speaks a quote with, "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds" from verse 32 of chapter 11.

This was entirely appropriate for the visual and sonic elements developing across the show, as it was a kind of abstract, visual history of the Manhattan Project, from the machines, the scientists, the facilities, the first two and only wartime use in human history to the atomic bombs and the planes that carried them to the aftermath -- the remnants of nuclear testing as a blight on the landscape.

But Lustmord and Biosphere never showed actual footage of the deployment of nuclear weapons, just a mushroom cloud of its initial testing. In that moment, all went quiet and then the sudden image of the nuclear weapon was striking, as it should be.

Tom Murphy
Lustmord and Biosphere at ATLAS Institute

As the screen showed the image of a plane that had "82" and a "P" marked on it, it was not a P-82, but a B-29, the sounds of air raid sirens went on and then sustained for who knows how long. But the image of bombs being loaded into a plane went on, and then images of sky, and when the sirens died down, a red light bled through, and a female voice spoke a famous Native American saying, "We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow from our children."

Location Info


ATLAS Black Box Theatre

1125 18th St., Boulder, CO

Category: General

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

1750 13th St., Boulder, CO

Category: General

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