graphic pictures
Bird on a Wire: A Five-City Symphony

25 minutes
Two-screen projection with live music performance

Director: Elle Flanders
Editor: Cynthia Madansky
Music Composed and Performed by: Marilyn Lerner

Bird on a Wire is a two-channel film projection accompanied by a live music performance that will be screened in five cities over the period of one year. Bird on a Wire is a project that crosses the disciplines of sound, film, video, installation and performance expanding the limits of cinema and challenging the crossover between film, art and sound works. Using a mobile phone, a still camera, a video recorder and sometimes Super 8 and 16mm, I recorded the everyday in the extraordinary. Beginning this project in the midst of filming Zero Degrees of Separation, I felt the need to eke-out a space in which to experience normalcy in madness. As I continued my travels, experiencing varying forms of unrest, war, conflict, suspicion, etc. I continued to collect images that resisted those definitions.

Finding solace in the patterning of birds and the unusual marriage of birds in an urban landscape, birds on wires, birds in train stations and airports, I recorded these moments as both reminders and escapes of the everyday. Wanting to then mimic the language of these recorded moments, of these interventions, I decided to team up with acclaimed jazz and experimental Canadian composer and musician, Marilyn Lerner. Her work with improvisation was to become a perfect complement for these seemingly random yet patterned instances.

Both the music performance as well as the visual component of Bird on a Wire takes its cue from improvisation. The piece speaks to the tensions that currently exist in an increasingly chaotic world as cultures clash with one another through displacement, exile, war and economies, and wherein technologies clash with environments. Despite this, the piece attempts to represent the spaces we manage to extract from within this chaos, which in turn create new and anachronistic forms and sounds. It is a contemporary work that reflects the dis-ease and uncertainty of our current world as well as our insistent desire and need to incorporate those wounds and transform them.

Of particular interest to me as a photo-based installation artist and filmmaker, is to push the medium further, whether it be in single channel projection or installation based-work. Bird on a Wire combines music, performance, improvisation, projection and the relationship between these elements sutured together with content exploring the current anxiety and condition of people in relation to space, notions of home, displacement, exile and war.

The film is screened with live music accompaniment, using local musicians in each city that it is performed in. Local musicians were used in Toronto, Taipei, Ramallah, and Montreal.

-Elle Flanders, 2006


Bird on a Wire Press Release