2011 / HDCAM / 13 minutes
In the tradition of Marey and McLaren, Michael Langan and Terah Maher combine music, dance, and image multiplication to create a film that enhances our perception of motion. "Choros" delivers a visually mesmerizing narrative in three movements, following a dancer's (Maher) experience of discovery, euphoria, and rebirth through this surreal phenomenon. Featuring music from Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians."
About the Filmmakers:
Michael Langan is an American experimental filmmaker. His films have screened at over a hundred film festivals worldwide garnering top awards, including a Student Academy Award nomination for "Doxology." Langan's innovation at the boundary of live action and animation has been praised as "confounding and fascinating" by The New York Times and "inventive" by The Atlantic. In 2010 he was named an "IFC Icon" and featured as one of "10 animators poised to become household names" by Variety.
Terah Maher received a Masters of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2006 and her BA in Architecture from Yale University in 1999. Maher's film work, influenced by her years as a modern dancer, explores the structural systems inherent in animation to extend the expressive potential of the human body. She is currently a Visiting Professor on Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.
About the Technique:
"Choros" is an experimental film steeped in tradition, modernizing a visual echo technique developed for scientific study in the 1880s.
In the late nineteenth century, a photographic technique called "chronophotography" began to develop, whereby multiple photographs would be taken in rapid succession to study the movement of a given subject. Eadweard Muybridge famously filmed a horse in motion in 1878, providing the world with its first taste of motion pictures when the images were displayed on a spinning zoetrope.
Several years later, the French physicist Etienne-Jules Marey developed a stunning variation of this technique when he captured multiple poses of a subject over time onto a single frame of film, rendering a kind of visual echo. The nature of this process limited the subject matter to that which could be photographed in a black studio using stark lighting, to prevent overexposure of the background when multiple images are layered over one another.
In 1968, just six years before Steve Reich began composing "Music for 18 Musicians," Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren adapted Marey's layering technique to actual motion pictures, in a groundbreaking film entitled "Pas de Deux." The additive nature of multiple exposures in chemically processed photography, however, likewise limited McLaren to the confines of a black box studio with high-contrast side lighting.
"Choros" revisits these technical innovations and attempts to contribute original innovations of its own. Using recent advancements in digital compositing, the technique developed for "Choros" introduces color, frees the film from the confines of a black studio, and allows the dancer to linger in one position without risk of overexposure, resulting in a variation of this historical technique that allows a degree of subtlety heretofore prohibited by technical limitations.