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HAPPENINGText: Phil Petty

Moving over to the IMAX, I catch a short performance by Exceeda, whose work ranges from TV and film pastiches to brain-jangling computer graphics, before the main feature: Rebirth of a Nation, a film remix performed by New York video artist and all-round sonic wizard DJ Spooky. He retains the narrative of this 1915 silent film epic – a notoriously racist family saga set against the American Civil War and rise of the Ku Klux Klan – but overlays graphics to enhance certain scenes. His soundtrack, meanwhile, blends a brooding, atmospheric score, modern beats and haunting echoes of early blues.

DJ Spooky

Looping and repetition forces you to view and review the film’s images portraying the freed slaves as animals and savages, while glorifying the heroism of the racist Klansmen. This is uncomfortable viewing, but highlights the fact that the birth of US cinema also marked the arrival of a powerful propaganda tool for enforcing racial and social stereotypes.

Addictive TV

Emerging onto the South Bank, I rush towards the river to catch the end of Addictive TV‘s live, outdoor AV mix. The images – projected onto a giant concrete cube that forms part of the National Theatre – are visible right across the River Thames and puzzled passers-by thronging home over Waterloo Bridge are stopped in their tracks by the spectacle.

Up on the outdoor terraces of the theatre, the crowd – surreally seated in rows of deckchairs – looks up, and in places erupts into joyfully drunken dancing, to an audio-visual mix of house and techno beats, Elvis, the Rolling Stones and 1960s Brit-pop cinema classic The Italian Job.

While I missed the earlier, less dance-orientated Eye of the Pilot part of the show, judging from the encores I did catch, Addictive TV certainly grabbed plenty of attention with this high-profile performance.

Masakatsu Takagi

Back in the NFT on Saturday afternoon, Big in Japan showcases the work of Japanese visual artists such as TomoGrapher, Glamoove and Devil Robots. The following short live show by Masakatsu Takagi, a multi-media artist who has previously collaborated with David Sylvian, highlights the more human aspect of electronic performance. Takagi’s gentle, classical and folk-tinged ambient keyboard compositions are accompanied by simple, painting-style images, the two aspects evoking memories of childhood and nostalgia for distant yet familiar places.

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