Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Expanded Cinema I: The Single Wing Turquoise Bird

The Single Wing Turquoise Bird performing in the Cumberland Mountain Film Company studio in 1970.
From The Single Wing Turquoise Bird website.
“During the last years of the 1960s and the first of the 1970s—the heyday of the psychedelic era—the premier light show in Los Angeles, and one of the best in the world, was the Single Wing Turquoise Bird,” writes cinema historian David E. James.
Combining slides, films, and strobes with dishes of colored oil and water and other devices for projecting pictures and abstract designs, the group composed their shows in real time, improvising like a jazz ensemble. Though they performed with acts like the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and Janis Joplin, the Single Wing most often created their own shows with their own following. Their work was also seen in the context of contemporary art, with performances at museums and other venues for art audiences. At once art, avant-garde cinema, and visual music, the Single Wing embodies the counterculture impulse to invent new, hybrid forms. The group performed regularly into the mid-1970s but, because of the ephemeral nature of their compositions, very little documentation exists of this early work. They created a new work, Invisible Writing, for this exhibition.

This interview with Single Wing Turquoise Bird member Michael Scroggins takes us into the room of a Single Wing Turquoise Bird performance from the '60s and '70s.


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