Friday night I wandered into Paresky Theater looking forward to an evening advertised as “a night of mind-melting tripped out animated videos and interactive psychedelic multi-media performances.” I was greeted with – nothing but a few audience members, empty instruments on a strangely lit stage and a crazy, interconnected, doodle-like animation. The evening was not off to a good start. The show began 30 minutes late in which time I was able to watch the same 20-second video 100 times. The students sitting behind me speculated about what this wait could mean. Was this the show? Is this a psychological experiment about subliminal messages? All in all I think acid would have greatly improved the situation.
Cartune Xprez is a tour by the group Hooliganship, originating from Portland, Ore., brought to Williams by Purple Valley Films and self-described as a “grunge rock inspired dance-off duo that combines highly orchestrated cell phone tunes with freak-out animations for a sensory-overload multimedia party.” After the long wait, two members of Hooliganship, Peter Burr and Christopher Doulgeris, finally began the show. They explained that their show has three parts and no rules for the audience.
Part One, entitled “Trash,” involved a projected animated trash world in which Hooliganship provides the music for the animation and play the characters within the animation. The music included electric pianos, sound-effect foot pedals, guitars and a recorder. Doulgeris and Burr became the characters through their costumes and actions, donning skintight neon jumpsuits that matched the characters onscreen and going “into” the animation – playing in front of the screen as the character. This music and animation was completed with wild dancing that incorporated simple movements repeated with flare.
The program for Part Two was printed on a small, doodled, neon triangular piece of paper that exemplifies Hooliganship’s style. This section of the show consisted of short animated skits by various artists. The first was entitled “Untitled (pink dot)” by Takeshi Murata. It involved a seizure-inducing strobe light and Rambo animations about flowing and falling apart. The next animation, Adrian Freeman’s “Shame Fellow” was actually sort of terrifying, involving a scantily clad, gyrating red and white character and naked animations doing aerobics.
My favorite animation of the night was a wall-painting named “muto” by blu. It began as a film of the real world in fast forward and became interesting when a cute monster emerged from a brick wall. The skit dealt with transformation – creatures becoming other creatures and creatures within creatures – and interaction with the real world. Near the end I realized this was not really an animation, but large and meticulously changed drawings (the perfection of the sunlight in these drawings tipped me off).
Next, Bruce Bickford’s “the comic that frenches your mind” was a simple black and white animation with an outline drawing style. It dealt with drugs – brains on drugs, minds on eggs and eggs on the brain – and was punctuated with quirky comments in the first speaking audio of this compilation of animations.
In the final part of Hooliganship’s performance, entitled “Realer,” Burr and Doulgeris are back – this time in a blue and red outfit, respectively. This section began with an animated television with a real world remote. The three-dimensional element of this show began with a cue from the animation, spoken by Burr.
My opinion of this performance was biased from the start. I did not appreciate the 30 minutes of waiting without so much as an explanation. Although my favorite part of this show was the animations from various artists, I did enjoy Hooliganship’s contribution. While overwhelming, loud and strange I found Cartune Xprez to be fresh and unique.