Ear Cinema

A Review

By Michael Kemp

Ear Cinema
Ear Cinema

Sooty phoned for a taxi to take me to Brighton Station, just in time to catch t he 17:49 to Victoria, London. Found a vacant seat. Bought a can of Stella Artois from the man with the roving trolley.

Hit Victoria around 18:40 on a Saturday evening and, crossing night bus lines & shelters, boarded a number 11 bus to Trafalgar Square and began walking down the darkened Mall.

Recognized the outline of the ICA glimmering in the distance, bold primary colours illuminating the oblique windows in turn.

Materialized at the reception desk and collected my reserved ticket for 8pm performance of Ear Cinema.

Wandered around the bookshop, bought a John & Yoko card (probably for Brenda) and a few other objets d’art - a little badge saying “parental advisory - explicit language” (probably for Mick Stannard, who apparently thought ICA stood for “Institute of Cunts and Arseholes”).

Marched purposefully up into the ICA bar (sans Jarry bicycle and shotgun) and ordered a Margarita cocktail—a snip at seven quid—and promptly washed it down with a pint of Guinness served by an extremely attractive black girl of fine ebony splendour called Sally.

Ear Cinema
Ear Cinema

Most of the other bar staff looked like Rufus Wainwright.

Sat quietly at my table downstairs by the theatre door, texting Sooty, and waiting for 8pm.

Soon the doors are pronounced open, and I shuffle in with the other 29 people and we take our place within the white guidelines designating a space, fenced off by four large projection screens, forming a cube.

A couple of moments hesitation (I use the opportunity to set up my mobile phone to take images and record sound) and then the ambisonics commence and the gruesome sub-Burroughs tale begins, actually a fleshing-out of the original track No-one Saw the Difference (text written by Alice Kemp) from Uniform’s Protocol album - with corresponding visuals flashed up or synchronized on all four screens, simultaneously mixing and matching, bare lightbulbs, faces, medical footage, operations, abstractions, archive material to ironic effect, 1950s menstruation tips for girls, etc.

And if that were not enough, after awhile a handful of live actors and actresses began slowly writhing their way in through the space between the bottom of the screen and the theatre floor, and gradually gyrated their tactile trance way through the captive audience standing together in mute semidarkness—and 25 minutes later, the piece ends—spirited applause for a superb installation performance—and exit one breathless reviewer, flushed with pride and nepotism, back out into the dark eyes of London searching for a lit taxi and the milk train home…