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May, 1970

Intermedia Nights - Mixed images evoke mysticism of Orient


Intermingling images of the many media effects produced at Intermedia Nights in the Vancouver Art Gallery Friday evening called up the mysticism and floating rhythms of the orient.

It was produced in light, sound and movement, initially through the graceful, undulating, choreographed movements of dancer Heather McCallum that recalled the beautiful dancers of Bali. This was the basis of a Tri-Media presentation that again brought the walls of the Gallery in as an important part of the environment through projected images intermingling with the shadowed movements of the dance performed to a mysterious, exotic sound.

The mood was continued into the second presentation by the Mandan Massacre in which the wailing chants of prime mover Bill Bissett emphasized by the wailing music of the reedy pipes of his strange ensemble conjured up dreamlike images of the snake charmer and Eastern mysticism.

Here again the human element in the room became one with the walls of the Gallery through projected images which were telling a message of the beauty and dignity of all life and the human form in contrast with the ugliness of so much of the man-made wast that litters our technologically civilized environment.

Finally in dramatic contrast to the flashing light images along with the full soaring volumes of sound waves which had been pervading the room, battering the consciousness of the hundreds taking part in the experience, there was blackness and silence preceding a comparatively uncluttered environment of pure smells that combined incense and the barbecue and muted sounds of the playing of classical cello interspersed with the haunting sound of low volume, recited poetry. This was basically a James Barber presentation.

That was the scene on the forth night of this experimental week of Intermedia presentations as it came through to me. But not quite, there was not the synchronized, all-envelloping, mind-involving environment of the previous night that took hold of the audience and made its personal involvement inevitable. There was a certain disharmony. There were gaps, there were broken images. But this must be when artists are experimenting wits new and relatively untried forms. The occasional failures are necessary to achieve the successful breakthroughs.


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