Behind and Beneath the Veil of "Film"
As a student of film, I am constantly instructed to analyse, praise, berate, and otherwise dissect the movement of the camera. How does the slow push-in enhance the dramatic effect of Queen Elizabeth’s monologue, how does the frame through Norman’s peephole implicate us in the very same voyeurism he submits Marion Crane to, and so forth. In practice, I exercise the same devices by physically moving the camera throughout a performative space to achieve a dramatic effect.
One of the first shots in Manual Cinema’s performance of Lula del Rey careens down the spiderweb-like infrastructure of a satellite disk and settles on the slight frame of a young girl. I momentarily found myself admiring the technical prowess of such a lyrical camera move when I remembered I was watching it being performed, live, and with no camera at all.
Lula del Rey is as much a play as it is a movie as it is a puppet show: a story told through silhouettes. Rich with the cinematic vocabulary of film, the performers create images that simulate the movement of a camera by manipulating light and shadow on three overhead projectors. The resulting live action along with the fully-realised soundscape and live music calls in to question what it means to be a film.
In a time where “film” is constantly misappropriated to describe a variety of mediums like digital video, animated content, computer-generated imagery, even virtual realities, Lula del Rey offers a wordless discussion on the medium and the role it plays in the increasing ambiguity of the field of “the arts.”