Men in the Wall (2003)

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Directed and choreographed by Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie, Men in the Wall is a four-screen 3-dimensional stereoscopic screen dance installation, commissioned by Arts Council Capture 3 that re-defines dance screen practice. Special stereoscopic glasses are provided to watch this 3D world of four men, whose shared framed lives reveal a public quartet of private differences. The piece runs on a continuous 25-minute loop.

Cast : Jeddi Bassan, Sebastian Gonzalez, Thomas Kampe, Scott Smith. Text Billy Cowie. Costume Holly Murray.

The piece can also be presented in a non-projected version using four computer monitors.

 

This is an Arts Council Capture 3 Award and received support from The Centre for Research and Development (Arts and Architecture) University of Brighton.

Premiere 23rd February 2004 I.C.A.

Men in the Wall national and international touring 2004/5 includes: I.C.A. London, National Review Glasgow, Brighton Festival, Trinity Square Gallery Toronto, New Art Gallery Walsall, Leamington Pump Rooms, Worcester City Art Gallery, Corn Exchange Newbury, IMZ International Screen Dance Festival.

'For reasons that are impossible to understand, we don't expect much fun out of art. Big sensations we've got aplenty. Thrills are everywhere. There's no end of sexual sizzle, heavy-duty irony or crazed rants. But while these outpourings may be therapeutic for the artists, they don't allow the unsuspecting viewer to lighten up a bit.
Yet with a bit of sleuthing you can some across something that's cheeky, satiric, or enlightening — like seeing the Marx Brothers for the first time. Item one: "Men In The Wall," by Liz Aggiss and Bill Cowie, at Trinity Square Video, 401 Richmond St. W, Suite 376, to Dec. 2.
To catalogue everything involved with this 3-D video installation might make it sound more daunting than a Meryl Streep acting job. We're talking about four matched projections repeated daily on a 25-minute video loop of four men — Jeddi Bassan, Scot Smith, Sebastian Gonzalez and Thomas Kampe — each in a cramped, box-like space, interacting with one another verbally, via comedy shtick or gravity-defying movement. There's even a big snoring scene repeated across the four screens.
But before visions of Kafka or, worse, a Don Mills condo, leap into the imagination, let me assure everyone that "Men In The Wall," is successful on every front — dance, video, comedy, travel, architecture and human interest. And, yes, you do get to wear 3-D glasses.
The effortlessness can be attributed to the some 20 years that Aggiss — a British dancer trained in the United States and with Hilde Holger in London — and Cowie, a remarkable composer/writer, have collaborated, melding video, dance and music together under the performance rubric, "Divas."
But credentials don't explain results. "Men In The Wall" enormously expands video's horizon. As each guy occupies his own space — now dancing, now playing the guitar while singing lieder — each acts as human semaphore, sending human-shaped signals.
It's as tightly constructed as a classic American sitcom, and funnier than most.’

Peter Goddard Toronto Star

'The two installations were delighful. 3D glasses enhance Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie’s four screen stereoscopic Men in the Wall. Situated against various backdrops (day, night, urban, coastal, etc) each male – a mixed batch of builds and temperaments and nationalities – dwells in his own walled square. They talk, sing, play music and move in a fashion stamped with the Aggiss/Cowie signature of quirky-humoured poetry and askew beauty. ‘
Donald Hutera Dance Europe


‘Men in the Wall is perhaps the most radical, with 3-D figures that appear to detach themsleves from the screen and inhabit the same space as the viewer’

Guardian Guide Judith Mackrell


'Aggiss and Cowie’s impression on the dance film excellence and innovation cannot be overestimated’
Ballet Tanz : Tanzfilm Autumn 2005 Lizzie le Quesne


References for Men in the Wall
Aggiss, L. Cowie,B. Bramley, I. (2006) Anarchic Dance Routledge
Hutera, D. (April 2004) Capture 3 ICA London Dance Europe
Goddard, P. (18/11/ 2004) Local Art not without a dash of Whimsy Toronto Star
Le Quesne, L. (Autumn 2005) Liz Aggiss 3D Queen of Brighton Das Jahrbuch von BalletTanz Tanzfilm
Mackrell, J. (11-17/12/04) Guardian Guide

 

Technical setup projected version

technical setup non-projected version

technical specifications

technical diagram

publicity photograph

publicity photograph 1.6mb

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view movie clip form NRLA saxsolo

view movie clip form NRLA snoring

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Men in the Wall can be seen on the DVDROM included within the book 'Anarchic Dance' by Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie, with Ian Bramley. Routledge