|Claire and Don in Slumberland - 3D slide/16mm film projection performance. 30 minutes.
In CLAIRE AND DON IN SLUMBERLAND projected 3D slides create a virtual space into which, 16mm film is projected such that ghostly figures appear to move around inside 3D “stage sets”.
Though, to my knowledge, my particular combination of moving figures within a stereoscopic space is unique, the conjuring up of spectral scenes has a long history dating back to the Phantasmagorias at the end of the 18th and Victorian Ghost Shows. In the 1950’s 3D film enjoyed a brief resurgence of popularity the context of monster movies and 3D slide technology for home use.
CLAIRE AND DON creates a dialog with all these histories as it traffics in the phantasmal, the monstrous and the home movie in its journey into the unconscious. It began with the discovery of an actual place, Pleasure Beach near Bridgeport Connecticut. A quiet stretch of shoreline, a cluster of candy colored houses in the shadow of two giant radio towers and beyond them, the Polka Dot Theater. All abandoned and overgrown.
As I wondered where everyone had gone, I began to imagine characters whose peculiarly sensitive mental state would allowed them to hear sounds inaudible to our waking ears, sounds that still, in some unknown wavelength, reverberated from the radio towers, sounds of the vanished inhabitants of this world.To write the script, I had to listen. I began to collect sounds or rather soundtracks.My primary sources were two educational psychology films from 1949, HYPNOTIC BEHAVIOUR and UNCONSCIOUS MOTIVATION. Both feature two students, Claire and Don who are hypnotized by an unseen voice and find themselves compelled to do and say a variety of odd things.
All this might seem somewhat trite “pop” psychology but I wondered if the films be in themselves symptomatic, revealing far more than they ever intended about the unconscious of American culture, a free floating fever dream of the cold war era. My work attempts to bring this subtext to light. The actors who play Claire and Don do not speak the lines instead they lip sync to the pre-recorded soundtrack. Like somnambulists, Claire and Don’s bodies become “screens” that act out uncontrollably a culture’s fears and anxieties as they enter this “force-field” of sound that speaks through them.
In their brightly colored costumes and doll-like make-up they resemble cartoon characters (I’ve always thought of cartoons as graphic representations of thought at work). Like cartoons, they become ridiculously malleable. Their bodies undergo continual metamorphosis, an absurd psychic disintegration until their disembodied heads and hands float freely in space. Gender is undermined as Claire begins to speak with Don’s voice and visa versa. Their features melt into cloud-like, “thought bubbles” as they play out a final disintegration of the self on stage, becoming the very Rorschach blots that they attempt to decipher.