Iannis Xenakis - La Légende d'Eer

I went to Anthology Film Archives Thursday night to see and hear Iannis Xenakis' La Légende d'Eer. In attendance were Thomas and Paul---appropriate companions as the three of us met during a residency at Xenakis' Ateliers d'UPIC in a smelly suburb of Paris.

La Légende d'Eer is a piece from 1978 created for the opening of the Centre Georges-Pompidou that included a 7-channel tape composition, an architectural construction of Xenakis' design and a visual component of 1,680 lights, 4 lasers and 400 mirrors. Thursday night's performance was composed of a video of visual documentation of the installation in the form of 350 photographs by Bruno Rastoin plus a surround-sound seven-speaker version of Xenakis' music mixed from the orignal master tapes live by Gerard Pape.

I was impressed, enjoyed the music and revelled in the rare occasion to hear Xenakis in NYC. Gerard Pape did a masterful job presenting the sound component: not sure how much leeway Xenakis leaves for the mixer of the sound, but any liberties Pape took were well received. The visual component was interesting, not wholly necessary, and I did close my eyes occasionally to take in the music as three dimensional. Watching the images on the screen sometimes flattened the sound, forcing me to focus too much on the two dimensional surface and not on what Xenakis was trying to explore in terms of sound in space. That said, the photographs themselves were often times stunning, the transitions in the still images were well executed and the whole product could be seen as an experimental documentation of an event/space. I would consider purchasing the DVD (the video presented at Anthology and a 5 channel version of the music component) for such a documentation. In all, an interesting night returning me to thinking about Xenakis.

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