Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Touch the Sound

Thomas Riedelsheimer, 2005
99 minutes, color documentary
All ages

Evelyn Glennie, a deaf percussionist, plays a variety of instruments with several collaborators in this portrait of her that focuses on the question of what is sound, exactly, and how do we hear? The body as a resonator, synaesthesia, the sheer joy of having a huge space to bang a gong in—like Rivers and Tides (see below), Riedelsheimer's portrait of this sound artist is an exploration of how humans play in the world, this time focused on the vibrations around us. Interview footage with Glennie is alternated with various performance pieces, including several lovely marimba duets with guitarist/musician Fred Frith. My eight year-old said, "I thought it was about different instruments—how you don't have to use an instrument for the thing it was made to do." In theaters as of this writing; waiting for DVD might be a good idea, as watching it in pieces will help restless viewers. Riedelsheimer does not rush his material.

Rivers and Tides

Thomas Riedelsheimer, 2001
90 minutes, color documentary
All ages

This is Riedelsheimer's beautiful portrait of sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, who works outside with elements of nature as his media: leaves connected by their stems carefully graded by color and set loose on a river, stones piled in to a beehive shape, scraped ice.

The movement of the sun and changes in the weather figure into his work as well, and children will recognize in Goldsworthy's studious, ambitious play, aspects of their own earthworks (if not, they need to spend more time outside).

The langorous, meditative pace of this film may be hard for children used to sensory overload, but the sheer technical skill Goldsworthy brings to his work should hold anyone's attention, and if you rent it you can watch it in pieces.