The Weekly Planet, 1969.
Weekend in Los Angeles
Dr. William Moritz
Friday and Saturday, January 17 and 18, at midnight in the Cinematheque 16 on Sunset Strip, Single Wing Turquoise Bird presented a two-and-a-half hour light show, Eidols, as an artwork in its own right separate from the context of a rock dance or a happening, proving that a "living" art work of organic complexity was (in addition to commercially feasible) considerably more interesting, challenging, and satisfying than any of the flat, static art styles of the past, including painting and the traditional fictional cinema.
Eidols demonstrated in five half-hour segments five different styles or formats that the Single Wing Turquoise Bird have mastered.
Gertrude Stein: EVERYBODY KNOWS SO MANY STORIES AND WHAT IS THE USE OF TELLING ANOTHER STORY/ SO NATURALLY WHAT I WANTED TO DO IN MY PLAYS WAS WITHOUT TELLING WHAT HAPPENED TO MAKE THE PLAY THE ESSENCE OF WHAT HAPPENED
First the 180-degree screens light up with scenes of the street outside, across from the door of the theater, and the noises of traffic and pedestrian cackles seem to be leaking in as well. Vertical shadow bars whiz by to the sound of passing cars faster and faster until the street is a flickering strobe and the neon signs leap out and flash a hundred times too large or maybe that’s the way they always were DON’T WALK DON’T WALK Don’t Walk don’t walk don’t don’t
The voices of the idle passerby become mixed with the voices of the idle newscaster straight muffled electronically altered fragmented but telling us just by inflections that they’re saying these same things again just like WALK WALK WALK WALK and MUNTZ MUNTZ MUNTZ and the smooth electronic music gliding beautifully in between the noise-music of the city pulsing. And then suddenly, as if all that could be erased, as it can, the revolving neon becomes also revolving wings of a mandala, a garuda, a bodhisatva choir, faces now of people instead of faces then of media and once it’s started the other lost faces come too -- the bleeding twisted Christ of a Reformation nightmare and the phosphorescent faces of an Indian tribe in the dancing and smoking rituals seen by Bert Gershfield’s Now that the Buffalo’s Gone with its sounds of chanting drumming inside the other sounds and the other Indians appear again in the piercing gaze of the Lord Shiva which the more it flashes the more you know the face is really made up of people like that rishi whose lotused legs are lips and mustache and his folded hands nostrils and so on until flames begin erasing everything except the electronic sounds and the sun blazes up and then fades out as the tones of the music cool, metallic, pale and paler.
Gertrude Stein: THOSE WHO ARE CREATING THE MODERN COMPOSITION AUTHENTICALLY ARE NATURALLY ONLY OF IMPORTANCE WHEN THEY ARE DEAD BECAUSE BY THAT TIME THE MODERN COMPOSITION HAVING BECOME PAST IS CLASSIFIED AND THE DESCRIPTION OF IT IS CLASSICAL. IT IS REALLY TOO BAD SINCE THEY ALL REALLY WOULD ENJOY THE CREATED SO MUCH BETTER JUST AFTER IT HAS BEEN MADE THAN WHEN IT IS ALREADY A CLASSIC
One measure of the genius of this first movement is perhaps that we have no language to describe it -- no way of telling simultaneity, no precise words for the electronic-musical sounds and modulations, no terms for so many of those hues and tones and motions that the light show had revealed to us as an essential part of our daily lives.
Gertrude Stein: SO THEN I AS A CONTEMPORARY CREATING THE COMPOSITION IN THE BEGINNING WAS GROPING TOWARD A CONTINUOUS PRESENT/A USING EVERYTHING A BEGINNING AGAIN AND AGAIN
The first movement performed the continually nowness of the present. The second movement took as its point of departure a short film of considerable artistic integrity and force, Dream of Wild Horses, which was subtly altered, expanded with additional material, extended with flumes of its colors and echoes of its shapes, the nuances looped in mirror cadences bathing a space and time much grander than the little square of the original. The sound as well extrapolated the lush organ-like tones of Jacques Lasry’s sounding sculptures from the film’s soundtrack into a more symphonic development.
The third movement similarly presented a fantasia on the theme of Pat O’Neill’s film 7362, which offered a mood and subject-matter radically different from the slow-motion romance of fleeing stallions. 7362 juxtaposes hard, fast imagery of naked women and escalating oil-pumping machinery, rendered abstract by close-ups and layering, solarized textures and iridescent colors. Once more the light show filled out the complex universe where those images could live, letting cadences echo, taking a flickering abstraction to its limits and back again, mirroring O’Neills images with considerable new film footage shot especially for this piece by Peter Mays (an old school chum of O’Neill’s).
The fourth movement, using Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” as a soundtrack, evoked sensations of travel in time and space using only non-objective, non-representational abstractions: boiling corduroy bubbles, enamel soapsuds breaking like surf, fluorescent crystals branching out, pulsating circles, pure geometrical shapes greased slipping away from you, spurts of chalky white exploding and re-exploding out of itself like a cauliflower periscope or high-rise mushroom clouds.
The final movement, almost entirely black-and-white, generated a wide spectrum of forms and iridescent colors that were not directly projected by the light machines but rather induced either by the Grateful Dead’s “Alligator” or as carefully calculated after-images of the projections with your mind’s eye as the ultimate screen this time.
Gertrude Stein: IT IS VERY MUCH MORE EXCITING AND SATISFACTORY FOR EVERYBODY IF ONE CAN HAVE CONTEMPORARIES IF ALL ONE’S CONTEMPORARIES COULD BE ONE’S CONTEMPORARIES
These words are not telling it all because it is a 1960s thing and most English words are a 14th or 16th century thing and if Single Wing Turquoise Bird could be writing it they would be writing it, but they are showing it and always only once because Friday January 17, 1969 was not like Saturday January 18, 1969, even though many things about them seemed to be being the same and if you did not see Friday January 17, 1969 when it happened you will not have a chance now because it was living not writing and this is just writing you are doing now.
Gertrude Stein: IF EVERYONE WERE NOT SO INDOLENT THEY WOULD REALIZE THAT BEAUTY IS BEAUTY EVEN WHEN IT IS IRRITATING AND STIMULATING NOT ONLY WHEN IT IS ACCEPTED AND CLASSIC
Moritz, William. "Weekend in Los Angeles." The Weekly Planet. 24 Jan 1969: 4-5.