Martin Messier & YRO MUTEK, Montreal QC, August 24

Martin Messier & YRO MUTEK, Montreal QC, August 24
Photo: Trung Dung Nguyen
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Martin Messier has been a staple of MUTEK throughout the years, but this time around he was joined by French artist and musician YRO. Messier seems to favour the stark contrast between white and black for his audio-visual performances, and last night's show (August 24) was no different.
 
In terms of all other elements though, it was incredibly distinctive. As YRO and Messier had begun to collaborate for this project some time ago, a fire broke in their storage room, destroying all the material they were planning to use. Instead of calling it a day, a new project was born from the gathered detritus of that fire called ASHES, where the duo would explore ideas of waste and disintegration.
 
They accomplished this by using high-powered microscopes projected onto a large screen, which zoomed in on burnt shards of material. Magnified to such a large degree, these chunks of waste more closely resembled alien terrain than anything else. As the duo then began to rotate their petri dishes, they moved forward on stage in order to operate these standing boxes with two large levers on top. Facing the audience, they to began to jerk the handles back and forth, either changing the speed or direction of the visuals behind. What at first seemed like completely random movements by the two performers eventually turned into a beautiful synchronized dance — one consisting entirely of pulling levers, mind you, but an impressive one nonetheless.
 
They were so in sync that it seemed like they might have been joined by neural wires. As they jerked back and forth, enlarged images flipped from ash to ash, black to white, and made stirring packets of ambience flitter about the theatre. It may have made some people consider the relationship between waste and creativity, but most were probably just wondering how on earth someone came up with such a concept.