Staring at Sound, a new branch of the Film Society's Sound + Vision series, is a recently formed monthly music and film event that explores the connections between the two medias through intimate concerts featuring live music and original video work.
The brainchild of curator Ben Seretan, the idea grew naturally out of a multi-disciplinary trend and collaboration he noticed in the music and arts communities. Said Seretan: “More people are multi-disciplinary than ever. Everyone has minor editing in their skill set and makes flyers and visuals to accompany their shows.” Being an employee of the Film Society, Seretan saw an opportunity to give a prestigious platform for this audio-visual exploration in the amphitheater of the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center. The space works well because of its comparatively intimate 60-person capacity, creating an atmosphere usually found in a Brooklyn venue as well as a DIY sense not often seen at a Lincoln Center performance.
Seretan is a member of the music and art worlds, his self-titled album was released recently and he has completed artist residencies at Flux Factory (2014) as well as another at Wasaic Project (2012). His music has roots in the experimental traditions of Terry Riley, and he tries to stretch the experience of time and find an interesting point between ambient formless music and performing a song. He approaches filmmaking in a similar way to sound creation, attributing passing of time to images—his film Double Alaska shows overlapping images of Alaska.
Participating in both disciplines’ cloisters and cliques, curation has been a natural process. Seretan encountered Tigue, an energetic Brooklyn-based percussion trio, and the next band to play the event, in a warehouse in Red Hook where they play as part of a record-label showcase called New Amsterdam. Tigue will be playing with Alejandro T. Acierto, a multi-disciplinary artist who will present live manipulated footage with Tigue’s performance. “From a curatorial perspective,” explains Seretan, “I get the artists to provide content as it’s a challenge to them and the approaches are all totally different. Sarah Lipstate had a chance to present her hand-painted 16mm films. Alejandro and Tigue are coming together for the first time.”
Also notable is that given the eclectic range of performances, the series is providing a way to get a different crowd to the Film Center, whose audiences tend to skew a little older. Seretan explains that when he asks the audiences how many have never been to Lincoln Center about 85 percent put up their hands: “The people who play in East Williamsburg and Bushwick have their lives centered around those neighbourhoods and this a way to get them to to see what Lincoln Center has to offer.”