NOTE: This is one of the pieces from an ongoing psychedelic/ambient video project.
This project (yet to be titled) was inspired by the idea of 70's progressive rock concept albums. It will consist of several short videos. Each piece will be autonomous, but when viewed together will create a larger whole. The final number of videos and the total lengths are yet to be determined; each video will be released as it is completed.
All videos will be directed and produced by Yoshi Sodeoka. Music will be composed by a collaborative effort of Yoshi Sodeoka and Daron Murphy.
Sound composition by Maggie Payne.
Like traditional Buddhist sand mandalas, each interactive mandala created is unique and impermanent. The design is created using random noise rotated around a center point to create ordered intricate patterns and changing colors. The user can interact with this mandala for meditative purposes, zooming to any level, applying rotation or a preset movements. The user can also choose to destroy and create a new mandala at any moment, but will never receive the same one again.
Controls: use scroll wheel on mouse to zoom, click and drag to rotate and spin. "Q" resets view and creates new mandala. "W" resets view. "A" dissolves mandala. "Z" stops the dissolve. "1" and "2" slow down and speed up the rotation.
The Retrospectroscope was made using a single sheet of Plexiglas 5 ft. in diameter, and was mounted directly on a stand and illuminated from behind. As an optical device, its function was to create the illusion of movement utilizing large format still images. The "Retrospectroscope" apparatus has gone through many incarnations, its presence belies the processes that have created it. As a pre-cinematic device, it traces an evolutionary trajectory, encircling the viewer in a procession of flickering fantasies of fragmented lyricism. This re-invention simulates the illusion of the analysis of motion to recall early mysteries of the quest for this very discovery now taken for granted; the "Muses of Cinema" represented by the female figures on the disk, have emerged from a dark Neoclassical past.
Music is analyzed and discussed using tools from many different fields - history, musicology, and sociology, to name a few. But words like “magical” and “mystical” rarely enter into the critical vocabulary when talking about music. Perhaps it’s because words like that tend to bring to mind the wilder, wackier reaches of the “New Age” section of the bookstore. Perhaps it’s also because “magic” and “mysticism” seem to imply that there are aspects of music that elude our critical grasp -- intangible qualities that escape the bounds of conventional analysis. For people who study music, this can be a hard pill to swallow. But musicians throughout the ages have openly referenced mysticism and mystical concepts in their work - a roster that includes everyone from composers like Alexander Scriabin and Olivier Messiaen to jazz musicians like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler to stadium rockers like Led Zeppelin.
A few months ago, after visiting the "Brion Gysin: Dreamachine" exhibition at the New Museum, I came across a dusty book in a small East Village bookshop titled Music, Mysticism and Magic: A Sourcebook, edited by Joscelyn Godwin. The book was published in 1986; the cover was purple and covered with symbols. The 61 brief chapters featured excerpts from the writings of figures ranging from Plato to the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. I was intrigued.
After looking up more information on the book, I came across a new book with an oddly similar title: Music, Magic, and Mysticism, edited by John Zorn (Tzadik, 2010). It is the fifth installment of Zorn’s “Arcana” series of anthologies of critical writing on music, most of it written by musicians. The contributors to this volume are impressive: Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Yusef Lateef, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, David Toop, Gavin Bryars, and Alvin Curran, to name a few.