[VIDEO] Midday Veil – MOON TEMPLE

In September 2010, David and I visited my bandmate Timm Mason while he held a residency at Experimental Television Center, the venerable video art institution in upstate New York. Our timing turned out to be critical: last summer, ETC ended its residency program after 40 years with little warning or fanfare. So in retrospect, we were tremendously fortunate for the time we were able to spend there.

Emily Pothast at Experimental Television Center

Emily Pothast at Experimental Television Center, Sept. 2010. Photo by David Golightly

Our video experiments revolved around the documentation and manipulation of a series of performative gestures by a figure (me), shot so that I could watch the feedback generated by my motions on a monitor and respond in real time. During our long weekend at ETC, we shot footage for two separate Midday Veil video projects. The first was a video for Anthem, which we edited rather quickly and released last May. The second was a much more involved project: a full-length video for a 24-minute track called Moon Temple, which appears on the improvised EP Subterranean Ritual II.

I began editing the video for Moon Temple almost as soon as we were done with Anthem, but the process was much more gradual.  I had close to eight hours of footage to comb through for the perfect gestures to accompany all of the sounds in the sprawling track, which begins with a hypnotic drone and ends in complete sonic catharsis.

After roughly a year of work, the video debuted today with a writeup from Vivian Hua at Redefine Magazine:

At its gentlest, the video is a silky smooth ripple; at its most severe, a rigid and noisy gallop through harsh-edged brain wave terrain. Pothast guides you to step through purple-hued worlds as she morphs from a candle-wielding human into multiple faces of sensuality, to disintegrate in and out of forms of ghostly apparition. 23:50 in duration, “Moon Temple” is the type of video you’d want to project on a big screen, for a richly synesthesic experience.

Last fall, I participated in a symposium on the work of Carolee Schneemann at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.  (My recap of the event is here.) Schneemann has long been a personal inspiration, however it was not until I was confronted with all of her work in the form of a retrospective that I realized what a profound debt our video projects (or at least my contribution to the videos) owe to her work, particularly the Eye Body series (1963). Eye Body consists of a series of “actions for camera” in which the artist’s figure becomes merged with a painted environment for a series of stills that are seductive, spooky, art historical, and uncanny, sometimes all at once.

Carolee Schneemann - Eye Body

Carolee Schneemann. Image from Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions, 1963 Carolee Schneemann. Image from Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions, 1963 Carolee Schneemann. Image from Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions, 1963

In Eye Body, Schneemann uses painting and photography to compose images rooted in the gestural facets of her own (visibly “feminine”) physicality.  She alternately presents herself as an erotic body and a grotesque monstrosity—a goddess and demon, even—tracing the membrane-thin lines between our perception of these interpenetrating experiential extremes.

In Midday Veil’s Moon Temple, the physical medium of painting has been replaced with ephemeral cascades of video feedback. The effect is related, if not wholly similar. The emergent structures of the video feedback make visible the unseen worlds of multiplicity and potentiality cascading off of every momentary pose and gesture.

Over the past few months of working on this video, I have isolated a number of screenshots and compositions that work well as still images. One became the cover of the Subterranean Ritual II album, currently available for streaming via Bandcamp. I have posted a few others below so that they may serve as additional graphic ambassadors for the longer filmic work.

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Midday Veil - Moon Temple

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Midday Veil - Moon Temple

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

Still from Moon Temple by Midday Veil

~ by emilypothast on February 20, 2012.

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