On Thursday, December 1, Laure Prouvost showed six of her short films and discussed the inspiration and meaning behind her works at Rensselaer’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. Her short films were very experimental, fitting the venue, and showcased a lot of different techniques with image, sound, color, and narration.
Although each film was very different, they all centered around the basic theme of technology. Her film Bunker Communication Sequence centered around a group of military workers, desperately trying to get in communication with someone named Graigor. The group was unable to do so as Prouvost exaggerated the mis-translation that occurs with modern technology. This film had an especially odd scene, as every person walking or moving in the shots were upside down while their surroundings were right side up. This was perhaps a metaphor as to how people feel when frustrated with technology, as if their whole world is upside down. This piece was the most technology focused, but the other films also exhibited a lot of quick scenes of text messages, and used a lot of abrupt sounds of text notifications and ringtones. Bunker Communication Sequence was the most straightforward of the films—it had a clear plot while the rest of the films were more about a sound and image experience.
That said, Prouvost used a lot of interesting elements in the films to make them a truly unique experience for the audience. A common element in most of the films was the breaking of the fourth wall, or the film talking directly to the audience. In After After the End as well as It Heat Hit, there was constant dialogue with the audience. The narrator of the film continuously addressed the audience members as “you,” bringing them into the film experience. In Object Vegetable, the film interacted with live objects on stage. The film was only a few minutes, and the only scene in the frame was the narrator’s hands, gesturing as she spoke about an experience she had when vegetables fell through her ceiling onto her bed. Prouvost actually brought those vegetables to the performance, and had them laid out on a table in front of the large screen. In the film, the hands on screen spoke about the vegetables and pointed to where they were sitting, physically, on the table in front of the screen, which brought the film to life and added an extra dimension to the experience.
Prouvost’s artistic style was very intense and stayed consistent throughout the six films that she showed. Many scenes in her films were simply quick flashes of random, provocative images, blocks of color, or short snippets of abrupt video. She overplayed a lot of visual effects over some of her short clips and images, giving the piece an even more artistic touch. The sounds were the key components that tied all six of these short films together. Prouvost uses her own voice to narrate all of her films. This was something she discussed during the talk portion of the performance. She said that using her own voice is not only practical, as it is easiest and saves money, but it also allows her to experiment more easily and find the exact sound and feeling that she desires. All of her films have her narration played over various types of scenes, and her narrative voice goes from a normal volume and calm tone, to a more angry tone, to very snippy and edited, to high-pitched and screechy.
Prouvost definitely created a unique audience experience with this performance. With it being unique, it was also very out there and hard to follow at times. It was a different and interesting aesthetic experience, but fell a bit short in actual substance and message. Her films were too focused on the art aspect that she let the message aspect fall short. With art, everything is up to interpretation, and perhaps I was just too overwhelmed by all of the flashing lights to take away a grand message.