October 25th, 2006

krazy koati

Let him go

One of the Biennale exhibits was called Ho Tzunyen's ``Bohemian Rhapsody Project,'' a video roughly set to the famous song. It starts out set in that fine if not overpopulated family of what you get by reading the lyrics of a song literally, which is an excellent way to make a favorite song sound ridiculous (eg, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers doing the Beatles' ``She Loves You'') or just disturbing (eg, ``Run For Your Life''). Either way you can lose your happy association with a tune.

The video opens with the protagonist and main singer/speaker being lead in to court (in City Hall, the building where the video plays) and being put into the dock, which is a fairly sensible setting for the lyrics as they are. It goes along those lines -- with a twist I'll detail below -- showing family, friends, the unsympathetic judge, and so on. For the guitar solo, then, the court lights go off, and a strobe starts, and there's the guitarist playing in flashes throughout this stretch. For the opera part the setting shifts to a vaguely colonial setting, intercut with a change of the judge to a bishop and back again several times over. The hard rock part goes back to the strobe-light guitarist in court, and in the conclusion the accused is uncuffed and released and walks out of City Hall; there's a cricket game going on at the Singapore Cricket Club, just across the street.

The twist is that participants in the video were selected earlier this year and were the finalists after four rounds of auditions open to professional and nonprofessional singers alike. Earlier this year there were 22 finalists invited to perform in the video. The actual production is made by fitting together the different performances, which gives the event a stranger result, with faces, exact positions, all sorts of details changing sometimes in the midst of a single sung word. The caption explains this is to encourage people to experience the feelings of a karaoke performance and to more easily imagine themselves performing. I'd imagined karaoke was already pretty easy for those who imagined they could perform to jump into, but there you go.

Since there's always a curious thing: the final production did not use bits from all 22 performers. Only 21 were used. It's not said why one guy was left out. It would seem like it means something different if the guy asked not to be included, or if he refused to sign a release, or if they decided someone had to ``lose'' the competition, or what. But somewhere is a Bohemian Rhapsody finalist who didn't make the Project.

Trivia: Gemini VI's 25 October 1965 launch attempt was held at T minus 42 minutes while waiting for some indication that the Agena target vehicle had reached orbit, and was still held there when the Agena's failure was recognized and flight was cancelled. Source: We Have Capture, Thomas P Stafford, Michael Cassutt.

Currently Reading: The World Inside, Robert Silverberg.