In The Jungle 2017 HD 63 min.
Equal parts musical, performance, and poetic lecture, In The Jungle is an experimental narrative originally created as a musical composition and live performance. The a single channel video features Baltimore performers MC Schmidt and Cricket Arrison and was shot at The Theatre Project in Baltimore on a 4k R3D camera. The piece was completed in the spring of 2017 and premiered at the Parkway Theatre in Baltimore on July 11, 2017. The video will screen for two nights in February 2018 at The Anthology Film Archives and in April of 2018 at the Union Theater in Milwaukee WI among other upcoming screenings.
This theatrical video works in the porous spaces between theater and cinema; essay and fiction; music and poetry. The composite nature of the video extends my exploration of hybridization and multidisciplinary text work in the field of expanded poetics.
In The Jungle, playfully and sorrowfully tells the tale of an unreliable narrator in a self-imposed exile. Given a grant to study the equivalent of animal cries and whines in jungle flora our heroine has lived for 1, 612 days deep in an unnamed jungle. The piece opens with a musical journal entry through which we discover that she must return to "civilization" to deliver a lecture on her discoveries to the board which funds her work. The typewriter on which she impresses her thoughts about this upcoming journey is turned into a melodic instrument and accompanied by an antique toy piano and Berg-like vocal punctuations so that the entirety feels like a circuit bent atonal opera. What becomes clear is an encroaching madness and reluctance to leave the sheer terror of thousands of square miles of rapid life and growth.
The sets are composed of video images of jungles collaged and projected through and onto the sculptural structures of trees and vines and mosses. The sets so clearly avoiding naturalism call into question our heroine's sense of reality; in this way the form of the piece suggests the unreliable nature of the character and her situation.
The jungle serves as an extended metaphor for excessive and continual growth and death and fear and sustenance; a metaphorical space of chaos in which the scientist finds solace and which stands in contrast to the human jungle of "civilization" to which the scientist must return.
A lecture on the epiphytic and resiniferous vegetation of the jungle is then delivered. Or rather, it is skillfully, strangely and poetically side-stepped and whipped into an emotional, philosophical frenzy. The lecture folds a poetic narrative into a roving philosophical inquiry and botanical primer.
The scientist then returns to the jungle just in time to listen to her favorite radio show which provides the courage and fortification of a direct god line to the jungle floor through a mellifluous dj and prescient pop songs.
Mostly she is terrified and interested in being terrified; thinking of all the implications of fear and understanding...the way these two ideas are constantly referenced, metaphorically, in the flora she set out to study.