Stadium originated as a live music performance for solo drums and showgirl dancers. The concept of the performance is to present a quasi-orgiastic celebration of rhythm staged theatrically within the mock pyrotechnica of 'the rock gig'. An almost cartoon-like staging unfolds, with Philip bare-chested and adorned with long flowing black metal-dude hair, flailing away at the drums, flanked by two exuberant explosive dancers. No words. No guitars. No other visible instruments. Just a set of skins sandwiched by skin.
Stadium – Infinite Cry To Iron is a 3-screen video set to one song from the Stadium live music performance. The song has been recorded in the studio; the video extends the live performance presentation of Philip’s bare-chested long-haired metal dude, flailing away at the drums, flanked by two exuberant explosive dancers.
SEXES, Performance Space, Sydney
Script, production, direction & editing - Philip Brophy
Red cinematography - Michael Williams
2nd unit HD video - Philip Brophy
Drummer - Philip Brophy
Dancers - Frankie Snowdon & Jessica Wong
Make-up - Bernadette Brophy
Data management - Andrey Walkling
DV playback - Keith McDougall
Lighting assistance - Diego Ramirez
Studio technical supervisor - Adrian Aderhold Studio - ArtsHouse
Thanks - Bec Dean (Performance Space); Michael Quinlan & Tim Catlin (RMIT School of Art); Olaf Meyer (Multimedia Events); Phip Murray & Bec Reid; Rebecca Manger
For the Stadium – Infinite Cry To Iron video, key iconic tropes of that era have been employed: dancers filmed against jumbo jets taking off at the airport, a drummer filmed against the crashing spray of ocean waves on rocks, pans across dockland freight cranes at night, close-ups of sweaty bodies, flicked wet hair, and drums skins being bashed. Philip and his dancers are mythic industrial pagans – ‘hammers of the gods’, as per Led Zeppelin’s 1970 lyric. In Stadium – Infinite Cry To Iron they revel in the mock grandeur of their sexed-up intoxicating sound world.
The 3-screen format references early 70s use of multiple-screens to generate a McLuhan-esque ‘media overload’ with rhythmatised strobic editing and visual repetition across the ultra-widescreen space. Early ‘rockumentaries’ like Woodstock revelled in the visual machine-gun effect of repeated images shuttering across internal frames upon the screen. The device is now a staple in contemporary spectacles for rock tours, Broadway shows and television events. Stadium – Infinite Cry To Iron wallows in this type of assaultive grandiosity in homage to how stadium rock – the apotheosis of mock grandeur delivered with the bluntest means – is godfather to such spectacularism.
The shooting script for Stadium – Infinite Cry To Iron is tightly shaped by the music track. In keeping with Prog Rock style and form, the track is divided into multiple sections, replete with dramatic build-up, climax, and a final dissolution. A different location was envisaged for each of these musical sections. It starts in a black void, then opens out into the oceanside with waves crashing onto rocky platforms. Loading docks at twilight are next, followed by the airport with large planes and jets taking off. After a brief coda of foaming ocean waves, the black void returns.
The final plan for the Stadium video was to shoot in these locations, but the logistics proved insurmountable. Instead, the production was adapted to a rear-production shoot. This was mounted in North Melbourne Town Hall (Arts House) using their large space. A high-end projector was set on the stage to project to a 5m rear-projection screen suspended about 8m away. A stage was assembled to rest in line the other bottom lip of the screen about 3m on the opposite side. A theatre lighting grid was suspended over head for lighting; additional lighting trees were placed on the left and right far edges of the stage. Finally, the camera was positioned about 20m away. Lenses were employed to compress this distance so that the performers placed on the stage would be flattened into the projection field.
All rear-projection footage was shot on location in pre-production using standard HD. This footage was then edited into the backgrounds for each of the 3 screens. HD Quicktimes were generated for each screen, with individual countdown leaders for each section. These were then played back onto the rear-projection screen for the performers to be filmed in front. The final shooting was done on Red HD across 2 days.
The Red footage was edited in Final Cut Pro, and exported as a custom 3-screen ratio file of 1020 x 5760 pixels (to make a joined file of 3 wide-screen files). For installation presentation, this large Quicktime file is played from computer using MS QuickTime player, which allows for the single file to be split via multiple video card outputs.SEXES - Performance Space, Sydney © 2012