Director: Peter Metler
Time: 29 mins
Evergreen Club Gamelan Ensemble
Compositions by Trevor Tereski, Andrew Timar & ECGE
Eye of Sound: Like any true love worthy of the name, the Western passion for Bali and the gamelan seems to be everlasting and continually evolving instead of stagnating. Metler's Balifilm works as an openly subjective ethnographic film on the breath and pulses of Hindu Balinese performative arts, forfeiting any simulation of objectivity in the name of aesthetic coherence. Footage of dance rehearsals or shadow puppet performances is merged with images of religious sculptures, agricultural work or the island's idyllic scenery. The film's soundtrack also abandons any semblance of "authenticity", despite its essential congruence with Balinese musical traditions. Played live during a projection of the film, the music expands earlier works by Western composers who aim at a reinterpretation of gamelan rhythmic and melodic structures in a dangerous, but successful, attempt to avoid redundant emulation (as in most American gamelan ensembles), new age exoticism (as in works like Andre Jaume's and many others) or even the noble tradition of avantgarde composers who strip Balinese music of its common, outward elements to explore dimensions that are unthinkable within the realm of local processes (such as Cage's Sonatas or some works by Philip Corner). The end result is a hypnotic work bordering on, but never accommodating, the conventions of travelogue, documentary and experimental film.