Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Bret Battey's Mercurius

Bret Battey's 2007 film Mercurius can be viewed on his website.

Mercurius is the first in my Luna Series of video-music works. In Mercurius, as in the other works of the series, the audio and visual components of the piece have no cuts or edits. What we hear is a continual transformation of one synthesis process, just as what we see is the continuous animation of nearly 12,000 individual points.

Three-dimensional rotation algorithms create the spiral forms in this work. In the visual music tradition, the spiral or mandala form has been used to evoke the unity of a meditative state — James Whitney’s Lapis (1966) being an extraordinary example.

But the spiral has symbolic associations not only with unity or creative energy but also with destructive forces. The spiral may represent wisdom and integration (the coiled snakes on Mercury’s staff), but it can also suggest the center of a spider’s web and the all-destroying vortex.

Mercurius ambiguously combines multiple sensibilities of the spiral. If there is a unity here, it doesn’t express itself in the balanced visual instant (the centered, symmetrical mandala); it expresses itself only over time as a single process exhibits rapid changes between a multitude of seemingly-conflicting states. Hence the title: Mercurius (Latin for Mercury) is the swift messenger, a symbol of the volatile and unstable.

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