Lilian Baylis Studio
Reviewed – 15th November 2018
“a really exciting piece of interdisciplinary work that melds film, dance and music in a mesmeric and moving work”
Three layers of gauze split the stage, and as the music begins, so does the film. Sweeping landscapes, and gradually, a single figure. ‘TOM’ is, says its creator, about how we feel the need to project a version of ourselves to society as we grow up, and about the parts of us that we leave behind in childhood. Created by Wilkie Branson, the piece is a fusion of dance and film, a marriage that Branson feels is completely natural, given that dance is about movement, and film is about capturing the moving image.
This is an incredibly technically demanding piece. Projected across the three gauze screens, the film itself is created in layers, the result of which is a 3D effect. Branson has made 85% of the visual in the film out of models which he transfers into this space using photogrammetry, in a process that involved over 200,000 photos. The piece skates between spaces: the claustrophobia of tube carriages and the endlessness of the edge of a cliff. The figures are filmed against green screens, and inputted into this 3D space. A particular highlight is a fluorescent elevator, floating against towering city blocks, a surreal beacon of emotion in the muted grey urbanity.
Benji Bower’s compositions in tandem with Mat Clark’s sound design is truly stunning. The music moves from heavy beats to sweeping strings, instrumental then later vocal. This is a score curated with the utmost skill, and its relationship to and clear understanding of the visual element of the piece is magical to experience.
The dance when it comes, is beautiful and emotive, and it’s a context in which we do not usually see breakdance which makes for a really interesting effect. My only qualm is that I wanted more of it. Moments that felt like they might have been launchpads into longer segments of dance then peter into something else. Branson expressed a desire to add a live dance element to the piece in future iterations of it, and this is something that would really help this and I look forward to seeing it materialise.
The final section feels unnecessary and strays into a wooly sentimentality. The rest of the piece has said enough.
This is a really exciting piece of interdisciplinary work that melds film, dance and music in a mesmeric and moving work.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography courtesy Wilkie Branson
Lilian Baylis Studio until 17th November