Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Fireball atop Mount Eerie

A first writing and entry of recent works, of which pertain to university studies and final graduations. This video was a second assessment for a writing course of mine, of which I briefly mentioned in my last entry, of which there lies another work - a writing titled Spidergarden - of which my intentions lie firmly on publishing within the coming months.

For now, Fireball atop Mount Eerie

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        Fireball atop Mount Eerie, an audiovisual interpretation of "II. Solar System" by the Microphones. Repurposed audio and abstract visuals stitched together into barely coherent vignettes depicting three stages of the story Phil tells through this song.

A huge thank you goes out to my friend Tess King, who walked me through the visual effects she used on her video The Storm and The Sky, which I then adapted to my own material.

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Further writings, notes for a class

II. Solar System is a song from the 2003 album Mount Eerie by alternative experimental folk rocker: Phil Elvrum as The Microphones. This song, and the album as a whole, deals with highly existential and introspective themes through a theatrical storyline following the narrator on their journey up a mountain where they die and later observe their own body and the environment it dwells in.

In this track in particular, Phil wallows in nature and gravitational metaphor depicting his inadequacy and awe when approaching this mountain, with the chorus acknowledging him as something temporary, something that will pass with time. This chorus, and especially the line “Blow over me solar wind” was huge inspiration for my film; the grainy and distorted visual style was one I had in mind far before any filming, as it promotes the idea of everything, even something as immovable as a mountain, washing away to dust. (see Visual Manipulation)

But not everything is decay, as instead of solely depicting this story as one of reduction I brought in ideas of movement and progression. In act one, the death of Mount Eerie is framed against a day passing: the Sun, or fireball, dawns, peaks, and sets as the mountain’s life reaches it’s end. There will be another day, another happening; as in the grander story of Mount Eerie, Phil’s death is not the end. Act two is a transitory stage of much more obvious movement and change. Inspired by the surreal and mystifying dream sequences of the classic anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion, often used to depict internal conflict or introspection, I made this scene to be abstract enough that the source image was unrecognisable, leaving the colour palette to do the heavy lifting. The sickly grey and purple migrate into warm forest underpinned by constant motion – nothing is permanent but new life will always find a way.

Later in the song, Phil reminisces on the memory of “a beautiful girl skilfully juggling a soccer ball on a sunny April Sunday afternoon in Tanto Gardens Park in Stockholm, Sweden” (from Headwaters), drawing this image into the storm of his own story, during which he repeatedly mumbles “I know you’re out there” to the girl and the greater universe. Early on I decided this to be the third and final scene of the film, but was unsure how to portray it, eventually opting for a less literal depiction of a faraway thing coming into focus orchestrated with the abstract beginnings of the Mount Eerie record and my own low grumblings echoing to darkness.

The music and sound play a prominent role to help move the story forward in this film; it makes clear reference to the original album (often times sampling from it) while also deliberately setting itself apart at times, being something new. The mountainous howling wind of the first act climaxes into the delicately unstable reed organ of act two – the audio and visuals are one cohesive piece of media, not a video for a song or a soundtrack for a film. 

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Visual Manipulation – Before production, my friend Tess King walked me through the visual effects she used on her video The Storm and The Sky, which I then adapted to my own material.

Headwaters – Some time in 2003, after the release of Mount Eerie, Phil started distributing a self-made book titled Headwaters, which provides insights and background to the album’s story and production. 

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