“Video Musics III: Floating Oceans”

Alexis Gideon: The future is rough, unfinished and mythic

A few trends are starting to emerge in the multi-media present

Alexis Gideon performs “Video Musics III: Floating Oceans”/Photo: Tasha Zack

By A. L. ADAMS

Last week at the premiere of his third film, “Video Musics III: Floating Oceans,” Alexis Gideon took stage right looking for all the world like John Waters as shot by David Lynch: slicked-back hair, pencil mustache, and a long shadow looming diagonally behind him on the Hollywood Theatre’s deep red curtain. A roaring, almost unbearable hum of audio static sprang through the anticipatory air.

This kind of “somebody flipped a grounding switch, god knows where” dilemma tends to happen with an ambitious set-up like Gideon’s, which syncs film playback with live audio elements, adding quantized loops of melodica, guitar, and voice, as well as lead vocals, over the pre-recorded film soundtrack (already lush with symphony instruments, polyrhythmic percussion, and delicate piano). The theatrical mood already set, stepping back for sound-check troubleshooting would’ve been a buzz-kill in more ways than desired—so the performer wisely opted to power through.

Maybe it was Regional Arts and Culture Council’s Helen Daltoso’s glowing intro that, paradoxically, made the static (and other visual fuzz that followed) stand out so sharply: “Many artists do multidisciplinary work,” she acknowledged, “but most don’t do it this well.” Like a construction worker puppet precariously balanced on a scaffold (one of Gideon’s cinematic visions soon to unfold), this statement was a set-up for a fall. If RACC, which sponsored Floating Oceans to the tune of $5,100, believes Gideon to be the sole champion of his crafts, the org will be delighted to discover Good Night Billygoat’s extremely refined home-made stop-motion and accompanying soundtracks, Like A Villain’s adept live looping, and Ash Black Bufflo’s brilliantly intricate soundscapes in future seasons. Even Oryan Peterson-Jones’ (Datura Blues) home-hosted summer screenings of Kurasowa’s Dreams synced to live music have brought a similar rush. Our city is flush with multidisciplinary maestros; Gideon’s work, beautiful as it is, fits in as much as it stands out.

Meanwhile, Floating Oceans—a halcyon dreamscape of half-narratives (namely, the writings of Lord Dunsony) carefully rendered in stop-motion animation by Gideon and Coraline alum Cynthia Star—has been enthusiastically embraced, earning Gideon praise like:

“one of the most important figures in this city’s artistic landscape.” — Portland Mercury

“push[es] the envelope further than we could possibly imagine…” — Eyes + Edge

While we don’t doubt the piece’s singular appeal, its acclaim also exemplifies some more broadly trending themes:

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