Created by:Victoria Gogolinski
The article title is: From the swinging sixties Arts Labs to the present FASE 23 screenings – what makes moving image events immersive?

By nature, screening events routinely tend to involve the viewing of film(s), a traditional panel Q&A and refreshments with maybe some added attraction. By contrast, when asked to think of words that best encapsulate the upcoming immersive film screening of Haphazard Inn: Chaos Narratives, the organizer’s used a family of adjectives – Idiosyncratic, Eclectic, Bold and kaleidoscopic. But what makes a screening really an immersive one and how has one of the FASE 23 events – Chaos Narratives come to be one?

There are occasions where curators create truly unique and alternative spaces by adding unorthodox experiences around the viewings in order to generate increased emotions in the audience. FASE 23 has been promoting itself as an entrancing event with a striking program. In fact, the screening of Haphazard Inn: Chaos Narratives was headlined by the organizers as a Psychedelic Cinematic Trip Spanning 50 years thus fully setting itself up to be a unique and kaleidoscopic experience. The program is filled with carefully selected shorts (with most originating from the BFI Archive) such as a coffee ad from the late 60’s (Good Strong Coffee) or a raunchy animated short on a woman having sexual fantasies with a slug (Slug Life, dir. Sophie Koko Gate). This juxtaposition of themes can be considered unorthodox or indeed idiosyncratic by serving a smorgasbord of sexual comedies to political satires. From the choice of films, one can already presume the event to be quite striking. Furthermore, it will be set in the London College of Communications Black Box studio filled with cube monitors playing the selected films. Through these techniques one could imagine how this immersion in projections will offer a space for the mind to speculate what exactly will come next. It could be assumed that such screenings are a thing of the future and not the past, however throughout the history of film events and art movements, there has been an occurrence of so-called Happenings. In fact, Haphazard Inn: Chaos Narratives has been inspired by one of these by both immersive vision and objective.

Originating in 1960’s London, The Arts Labs have been truly a one-of-a-kind event, that evolved thanks to the experimental methods of curation. Not only did the era demonstrate a shift in pop culture aesthetics but also an evolution of themes where they had been characterised by a questioning of identities and the general breaking down of social, cultural and artistic boundaries (studio international, 2020). The founder Jim Haynes described the idea behind the events as a goal to create a melting pot of content and audience members. The Arts Labs featured various mediums through which art was projected and exhibited, such as a pyramid made from edible oranges for the enjoyment of the audience or the groundbreaking Black Power Week. In fact, it was during this time, that the Happenings held screenings of various films and exhibitions including a show from Winston Branch who, born in Saint Lucia became known for his paintings and drawings (studio international, 2020). This enveloping of the audience with alternative forms of exhibition is what had actually stemmed the idea for Chaos Narratives. As a matter of fact, for the purpose of this article, the curators of the screening had been asked to describe their views on such immersive screenings in one sentence.  Julia Andrzejczuk accurately remarked how such events count as unconventionally crafted experiences during which the audience is surrounded by a variety of art forms, enabling one to immerse deeply. Again, this can directly be referenced to the idea behind the Chaos Narratives screening where the event will open with a student led punk rock fashion performance. By featuring an open call for student designers, the screening will not only offer a platform to showcase the products of creativity, as was in the case of the Arts Labs but also to further entice the audience and immerse them in the curated kaleidoscopic world of visuals, sounds and live performances.

There have been various other exhibitions in museums or galleries, where techniques using VR, sound or moving images further employ the audience to ask themselves questions on reality and societal norms as well as physically take them out of place. In fact, one of the other curators Joana Monteiro Azevedo Campos Pinto pointed out how such events are an opportunity for sensory roaming, entering a spectrum of the consciousness and subconsciousness. With that in mind we can trail back to the idea behind Haphazard Inn: Chaos Narratives and how its techniques of exhibition and elaborate program will aim to take the audience on a journey and numb them from the distractions of the outside world in order to fully appreciate its messages.

With all its aims and visions, the screening will encapsulate an array of themes and reactions, however in all of its chaos lies a structure. By providing the audience with an immersive setting each and every viewer will experience different emotions and leave with individual outlooks on what they viewed. However, by staging this type of event, the audience will be able to experience the screening as both a collective and as a sole attendee, perhaps later being immersed in deep debates on what has transpired.

Image Source: https://dangerousminds.net/content/uploads/images/0ukspunk.jpg

Studio International, November 2020, ‘London’s Arts Labs and the 60’s Avant-Garde’, viewed 27th of January 2022,  <https://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/londons-art-labs-and-the-60s-avant-garde-david-curtis-book-review>.

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