Music by DARCY JAMES ARGUE | Story & Visuals by DANIJEL ZEZELJ
Scenic and Projection Design by JIM FINDLAY
Featuring Darcy James Argue's SECRET SOCIETY
CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS AT PENN STATE
FEBRUARY 28TH, 2017
Commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2011 Next Wave Festival
Originally premiered in a BMP production at BAM Next Wave Festival, November 2011
Brooklyn Babylon is a multimedia performance that uses live instrumental music, animation, and live painting as its language of expression and communication. All three elements are presented onstage simultaneously, and work in concert to present the central narrative: a story about the highest tower in the world being constructed in the heart of futuristic Brooklyn. The main character, an old carpenter named Lev, is commissioned to create an elaborate carousel to crown the top of the monumental building.
The music, performed by Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, compliments the visual aesthetic, seamlessly combining and juxtaposing influences from a variety of genres and time periods, functioning as an equal partner with the projections and live painting in creating the narrative. The animation follows the characters through a decaying metropolis where past, present, and future melt together in a decaying urban labyrinth. The atmosphere resembles that of silent movies from the 1920’s, with sharply contrasting light and shadow, expressive gestures and movements, and minimal use of text. The live painting is created on a large horizontal panel attached to a scaffold above the screen. Black and white acrylic paint is applied with large brushes and rollers. Each painting gradually evolves from the abstract towards the figurative, and then slowly dissolves into the next image. The painting mixes a Baroque chiaroscuro aesthetic with graffiti and wall-writing textures.
Brooklyn Babylon was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2011 Next Wave Festival and was supported by a grant from The MAP fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Brooklyn Babylon was developed and received a preview performance at SUNY Purchase, Wiley Hausam, Executive Director.
“MR. ZEZELJ’S SWEEPING ANIMATION… MR. ARGUE’S ORCHESTRA IS AN EIGHTEEN-PIECE MARVEL OF MULTI- INSTRUMENTAL VERSATILITY… THE END RESULT IS AN IMPRESSIVE NARRATIVE THAT OFFERS VISUAL SPLENDOR AND MUSICAL MAJESTY OF THE TYPE NOT OFTEN EXPERIENCED, A TOUR DE FORCE.”
–The Huffington Post
“A THEATRICAL CONCERT THAT IS “DESTINED TO BE CONSIDERED A CLASSIC OF THE EVOLVING GENRE OF MULTIMEDIA PERFORMANCE.”
–WNYC, Studio 360
“EXPANDNG HIS SONIC PALETTE AS NEVER BEFORE, MR. ARGUE CONSCIOUSLY INTEGRATED MUSIC FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES OF BROOKLYN FOR THE MULTIMEDIA PIECE BY ADDING ELEMENTS OF BALKAN BRASS, FRENCH CAFÉ MUSIC AND EVEN MARCHING-BAND MUSIC. BECAUSE THERE IS NO LIBRETTO, THE ENTIRE NARRATIVE IS TOLD THROUGH THE MUSIC AND MR. ZEZELJ’S POWERFUL AND CHILLING ILLUSTRATIONS. THE SHIFTING IMAGES ACT AS A SORT OF TIME MACHINE, FORWARD- MOVING AND SEEMINGLY IMPLACABLE.”
– The Wall Street Journal