In the presentation of cinema, the contemporary audience has often needed, wanted, or been given an explanation of what they are seeing on the screen, like a hand to hold while walking down dark and unfamiliar alleys. A film's musical score, for instance, often serves a common function in this regard: to explain how to feel and when.
Wet Gate attempts to turn this master-slave dichotomy upside down. By rearranging the "officially" coupled audio and image, we re-position them in an effort to examine both image and sound separately and together. By bringing the projectionist(s) out of the booth and onto the stage, their role as performers is redefined.
We perform pieces for multiple 16mm sound projectors as a "band", the machines and films as musical instruments. We collage projected images and optical audio tracks from film loops and fragments, using electronic effects to sample and delay our films' sounds, slowly ripping the stitching out from between the soundtrack and image coupled in the film material. Sometimes a projection is used simply to call attention to a primarily auditory event.
The key concept behind the Wet Gate project is the use of optical film soundtracks, and only optical film soundtracks, as the originating material for our performed sound. No tapes or other outside sources are utilized. Film material is both revitalized from the ashbaskets of cine-refuse (read: found footage) and lensed by Wet Gate. We apply self-adhesive patterns and textures to the soundtrack areas of film stock, creating rhythm tracks out of analog anomalies.
And we give you image, though often at an absolute minimum - a cruel economy. Film loops provide a paradoxical and brilliant economy of their own: continuous repetition of footage becomes alternately absurd and serious depending on the number of times it is viewed in its intended/unintended context. Ultimately, any footage can be passed through this "system" - our pieces are built around frameworks loose enough to encourage improvisation.
Wet Gate has been performing since 1995, experimenting with various different methods of projection. These include our "skinnimascope" rear-screen (a small triptych which makes for a deliberate reversal of the "standard" cinema experience: small pictures, BIG SOUND), travelling images bounced off of mirrors, and a more traditional long throw/big screen approach. In an effort to concentrate on sound, we will also periodically perform "bulbless" - with no screen at all. Cinema for the ear. Furthering our cross-pollenating spirit, Wet Gate has periodically collaborated live with performers such as Wobbly, Animal Charm, People Like Us, Basement Films and others.
is comprised of three core members, Peter Conheim (also of Mono Pause
and Negativland), Steven Dye (also of EPIC: abridged) and Owen O'Toole,
each with diverse backgrounds cross-breeding filmmaking, musical
composition/improvisation, radio, and other visual and sonic arts.
GATE - THE ALL-PROJECTOR ORCHESTRA (cassette, Qualipy #2, 1997)*
THE PSYCHIC FLOCK (VHS videotape, 2001)
[ltd. edition, recorded live at The LAB, SF 12/2000]
SO BORED WITH THE USA track: "Lunchtime USA" (collaboration with Wobbly