Art groups and rock band plan concert

By Usman Ahmed

University visual and creative art organizations are collaborating on a project that will excite most of the five senses: a rock show with a visual twist. The night of artistic entertainment pools the collective resources of Fire Escape Films, the Smart Museum of Art Committee, UC Dancers, and the student rock group P1xel and the Chronic Network. Entitled Synaesthesia, the event will take place Thursday night from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Smart Museum of Art.

Synaesthesia is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “A sensation in one part of the body produced by a stimulus applied to another part.” Organizers of the event hope to apply this concept in a multi-media experience of “color through simultaneous film, music, and performance.”

Planning for the event began last year during the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) after the P1xel performance in the University’s parking garage on the corner of 55th Street and Ellis Avenue, which was produced by Fire Escape Films, the University’s student film-making organization.  On the strength of P1xel’s performance, Fire Escape tapped them to perform for the upcoming event.

Fire Escape Films has an even bolder vision for the upcoming “Synaesthesia” event.  Citing last year’s event as more traditional, president Maria Cecire, a second-year in the College, envisions the event as a “fabulous glam rock show plus.”

“It will have all the qualities of a great rock show in addition to the visual stimulation of the film and the fantastic location of the Smart Museum lobby,” Cecire said. “The event will be very stylized and absolutely a lot of fun.”

Playing with the rock group’s name, P1xel, the organizations have planned the event to be a celebration of color.  Fire Escape Films will project a forty-five-minute movie about color over the band and a screen behind them.

Gabriel McElwain, A.B. ’03, a member of the group P1xel, characterized the event as an “overwhelming combination of media.” He said, “We’ve all seen bands with B-movies projected over them, or arbitrary non-related images. We saw an opportunity to work closely with the filmmakers to make something extraordinary, to expand and compound the ways in which we can ready and affect people.”

Synaesthesia is also being coordinated with the Smart Museum of Art Committee (SMAC), the museum’s student-run organization that promotes art events on campus and in the museum. “SMAC’s role in this event has been to conceive of an evening which combines the vision of these diverse student groups into one program, and to make it fit within the environment of the Smart Museum,” said Patrick Monahan, a third-year in the college and co-chair of SMAC.

Rounding out the spectrum of visual and creative arts, Fire Escape Films and SMAC will be joined by UC Dancers.  Monahan requested that the UC Dancers collaborate in the event, adding that they were a popular success at last fall’s “Sensory Overload” event. For this event, UC Dancers are slated to improvise throughout the museum.

All parties involved agree that the uniqueness of Synaesthesia results from the high level of collaboration between a diverse set of student groups. “So much can be done when you’re working in a variety of media,” Cecire said. “You find that all kinds of possibilities open up when you branch out and try to collaborate.” Cecire added that the event is beneficial for the University because it brings students closer to the artistic community. McElwain echoed Cecire’s comments, saying that P1xel chose to participate in the event because its members felt there was a void in their musical genre at the University and Hyde Park. He described P1xel’s music as an “amalgamated brand” of glam rock that is also conceptually interesting. “We amuse or distract our audience with philosophical quandaries, and while they’re thinking about authorship or gender issues, we pump them full of melodic hooks,” McElwain said.

McElwain promised that a listener doesn’t have to be a philosophy concentrator to appreciate Synaethesia.  He said that the most immediate benefit for the University is simply the opportunity to “rock out.”