The Illuminated Corridor meets the Internet Archive. What does that even mean? To find out, I went to the source, Oakland artist, musician, and impresario Suki O’Kane:
wake up!: What is the Illuminated Corridor?
Suki O’Kane: The Illuminated Corridor is a next step in outdoor cinema: a nomadic public art installation that creates site-specific illumination of public space, drawing on local traditions of film and live music. Using the model of temporary public art intervention, we mask street lighting and relight facades with projected video and film, accompanied by live musical performance.
Launched in the Summer of 2005 and involving a collaboration of over 75 Bay Area filmmakers, media artists, sound artists and musicians, the Illuminated Corridor catalyzes new work, showcases diverse collaborations between performative projectionists and performing artists, and covers a vast territory of film and music genres.
That sounds really interesting. How do people respond to it?
They perambulate, mostly, caught in the various gravitational pulls of the simultanous work the way folks are drawn to, or driven from, works in a gallery setting. Two unique things happen: the viewers walk among the performers who are set up in the middle of the street, unmediated by stage or velvet rope; and the view is not traditional. No projection screen or makeshift shower rod proscenium is used. The image goes directly onto facades, which absorb and reflect in very different ways, bitten by age, use and grime.
We’ve been asked, and by as many artists as audience members, why we would permit light to get swallowed up by the facades when we could cloak, Christo-stylee and light a place up like, well, Christmas. We might someday, but for now we’re confusing matters by experimenting with the perception of where illumination is coming from in a Corridor. Is it what the artists are applying? or is it what the facades are releasing?
How many times have you done this before?
We are Number Six. From the original Bayennale version at Jack London Square to the encyclopedic circus of Oakland Ironworks we moved to an exquisite corpse model: a righteous cut-up of Vertigo outside the LAB built from a deft edit of the film by Sarah Lockhart and assignment of notes from Bernard Hermann’s score. We reconvened at the spiritual home of the IllCorr, 21 Grand Art Gallery, in the Fall of 2006 with Mobility, a themed performance that asked artists to consider the range of meaning in the word: from the darkened lot of Saturns to the creeping gentrification of Northgate to the iconic story of 21 Grand itself, displaced three times yet continuing to grow as a central force in Oakland arts.
Then, with enormous irony, we were the inaugural performance on The Great Wall of Oakland, an 8-story windowless facade addressable only from the rooftop of the Broadway Grand, a condo project that evicted and razed 21 Grand as a first step in realization. Good Times, which they were, was the name of the piece we commissioned local composer Dan Plonsey to create for an eight-piece string ensemble.
What’s the theme this time?
Prelinger on Prelinger. This Corridor seeks to illuminate the Prelinger Library, a private research library open to the public with collections encompassing some 50,000 books, periodical volumes and printed ephemera. The Library is linked to the Prelinger Archive, a collection of ephemeral films that are a key creative resource to artists of the Illuminated Corridor, and serve as a touchstone for the broader community of film, sound and bricolage artists. For many of the artists participating in this Corridor, it’s a love letter to the Prelingers for their contributions to the creative commons, their stewardship of the artifact, and their encouragement of appropriation and associative discovery.
The Corridor will take place during the Library’s traditional Wednesday Open House evening hours, where we are inviting people to lose themselves in the stacks of an extraordinary library turned inside out for an evening.
Why? No really. Why why why?
Corridors have a lot of subjects in them: public art, expanded cinema, intermedia, cultural intervention and reclamation, and this particular Corridor is meant to press questions straight from archive.org: how do we protect our right to know and our right to remember. But we try to never forget that it is simply fun to watch movies outside with the neighbors. Innocent, ad Hoc, unfiltered, community-based, with a transgressive overtone (we were meant to use the building to hold the contents, but we’re using it to show some cinema), it’s hard to walk away from a Corridor without feeling like you just got away with something. We want to transform these spaces, so that when we all return there in the course of our normal day, we can never see it in the same way again. Ephemerally imbued. Like that.
So there you have it. The Illuminated Corridor, a collision of public art, live music and film, next happening on Octoer 3, at the Prelinger Library, bounded by Eighth, Folsom and Rodgers Streets in San Francisco, CA.