The futuristic metaphysical movie The Matrix proffered the notion that more than one reality exists: There's the one you think is reality and another one that exists beyond the average human's realm of conscious experience. Hollywood blows plenty of imaginary smoke, to be sure, but in this case the plot was loosely based on actual metaphysical and quantum physics theories.
Some of the big brains thinking this stuff up have dubbed the multiple-reality thing "manifold actuality." Manifold means "many" and actuality is another word for "reality," but hey, they're scientists and philosophers, so they had to use big words. A little more down-to-earth, though not much, is Manifolds of Actuality, the multimedia performance piece that opens this weekend at Galerie Macabre in Fort Lauderdale.
The show is an experiential chunk of live theater involving a laser light show, spacy ambient music, and 3-D fluorescent paintings. The title was dreamed up by laser guru Robin Keith Elkins of Hollywood. A guy who himself fits into the big-brain category, Elkins, also a saxophonist and self-taught recording engineer, is the one who invented and patented the technology that gave rise to voice mail.
But that's just one of his inventions. Growing up as a kid in Philadelphia, Elkins, now age 45, became fascinated by laser technology while a student member of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Science. In 1978 he built his own laser and in the early '80s built his first high-energy laser. Around that time he began designing lasers for Holografix, a Miami hologram company. Today he designs and sells lasers through his own company, ELK Industries, Inc.
Elkins' personal favorite applications for the refined light beams are artful laser light shows and holographic images. "I was fascinated with [laser light] in terms of its unique abilities as a visible energy source, a fascination with just the light itself," he explains. "They are just a remarkable type of light that has what is called 'laser speckle,' the glimmering effect."
During Manifolds Elkins will use equipment of his own design to blow people's minds with stunning laser images. "One will appear somewhat like a field of stars that you are flying through," he lets on. "Another one is a beautiful, large quartz crystal."
Elkins, also known as Laserob, will choreograph his trippy light show to a New-Agey, sci-fi soundtrack of ambient electronic music performed live by Miami band Espontaneo. The trio of musicians will play positioned behind a curtain of clear plastic strips near a black-light source, which will make it appear as if they are floating; anything that reflects the black light and the lasers will be visible to the audience, and everything else will be dark.
Meanwhile 3-D painter Joseph Raymond, wearing stilts and dressed in a space-alien neon-poly outfit made of glow-in-the-dark material, will also coordinate his "performance painting" to the music. His corner of the darkened gallery will be outfitted with a bank of black lights and black-light strobes so that when he applies flowing, abstract brush strokes of fluorescent paint to a black canvas, the pictures will seem to appear out of thin air. To get the full 3-D effect, audiences will wear special glasses.
"It's definitely going to be a very mentally stimulating and visually stimulating show," claims Lady Vanessa, proprietor of the gallery.
The initial idea for the show came to the good lady when she saw Espontaneo playing at the Wallflower Gallery in North Miami. "It was very transcendent, moving music," she recalls. "They were also playing these computer-animated videos and fractal images, very Mind's Eye kind of stuff, so I was traveling, you know?"
After the band's set, she approached the musicians about playing a show in her warehouse gallery, and they agreed. Around the same time, she met Elkins through Raymond. Five months ago the group decided to collaborate on Manifolds.
"This is an experience," says Lady Vanessa. "It can be spiritual for some people, a trip for others." -- John Ferri