The Light Surgeons

Over the past ten years the UK based art collective The Light Surgeons have developed and pioneered their own unique style of mixed media performance. Their groundbreaking shows have developed a form of audiovisual journalism that fuses music and storytelling by way of recorded interviews and fragmented narratives in combination with improvised live manipulation of video.

True Fictions: New Adventures in Folklore is an exploration of how personal, political, and national myths evolve from subjective stories to widely held truths. Commissioned by EMPAC: Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in upstate New York, The Light Surgeons set out to investigate the stories and myths surrounding Uncle Sam Wilson; bearded idol of a contemporary pantheon and personification of the United States.

This web of narratives tightens through interviews with historical re-enactors and local Native Americans from the Seneca and Mohawk tribes, deepening this exploration of archetypes and blurring historical fact. The Light Surgeons nomadic travels take them around the state of New York, collecting opposing views and tangled conspiracies from the 5th anniversary of 9/11 and in the heart of New York City.

An original musical score was generated through a series of recording sessions in NYC with unsigned artists collected from the internet. Taking inspiration from the Dadaist game of Exquisite Corpse, each collaborating artist was invited to react to a previous recording; in this way a series of musical rumours were generated and the source material for the various tracks conceived.

The result is a true fusion of different musical genres: classical, electronic, folk and hip-hop are spliced together. All of these musical and vocal sessions were recorded and form part of the visuals for the show. The final live performance brings all these elements together on stage as a kaleidoscopic multi screen cinematic experience, incorporating live musicians and striking audio-visual manipulations.

The event formed part of Urban Screens Manchester, a conference and festival exploring creative use and non-commercial content in programming an increasing proliferation of urban screens and projection-based installations. Curated by Susanne Jaschko with a four-day art and event programme produced by Bren O’Callaghan and Marie Sleigh in partnership with Cornerhouse, the BBC andManchester City Council.

For this, the European Premiere and second-only world performance, The Light Surgeons performed in the spectacular surroundings of The Great Hall, a lofty Victorian-Gothic salon within Manchester Town Hall on Thursday 7th October, 2007. Completed in 1877 to a design by architect Alfred Waterhouse whose legacy includes the Natural History Museum, London, the venue doubled as interiors for The Houses of Parliament in director Guy Ritchie’s re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes and Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady.

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