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Monday, July 12, 2010

May the Light Affect reflects Atlanta in a Le Flash

Posted By on Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 2:01 PM

May the Light Affect from Proper Medium on Vimeo.


Blake Williams' documentary of Le Flash, a one-night event in 2009, could be a revelation for you. You could leave the theater changed, finally realizing the wealth of artistic talent living and working in Atlanta, though you might not want to admit your lapse in recognition.

In part, that's because May the Light Affect is utterly stunning in its documentation of that sprawling event in Castleberry Hill. Even those who attended will be surprised to see the evening condensed into a single hour, framed by Williams' artful lens, and occasionally slowed to a mesmerizing crawl, allowing for a surreal sort of reflection that even being there couldn't offer. With almost no dialogue and no narration, the film makes an argument for the arts in Atlanta that's matched by no document in recent memory.

Williams shows a fondness for quiet moments in the film's opening scenes. A man rolling a log down the road; an unexplained green balloon floating in an alleyway; and even the unfurling of an orange extension cord look vivid and compelling in his compositions. These glimpses of preparation are a welcome (though a bit lingering) look behind the scenes — dancers rehearsing in warm-up clothes, artists climbing up and down stepladders, video projectors being refocused, and so on.

Steadily, the film builds up to the energy that it achieved that night - the glowing and flashing of videos, the throngs of crowds in the streets and galleries, and the unpredictable, evocative moves of dancers as they move throughout the scene. Using the murmurs of observers as well as an original score to heighten the mood (Williams' background is in music), the documentary creates the sort of tension that non-narrative work usually strains to achieve.

Anyone looking for an introduction to Atlanta's art scene would be well served by seeing this - everyone from Micah and Whitney Stansell to Chris Chambers to Lauri Stallings' gloATL dance troupe get well-deserved screen time - but it should be welcome moment of reflection for those already involved with the arts in Atlanta, as well. For all the hand-wringing and anxiety about this city's larger context in contemporary arts, May the Light Affect is good proof of what Atlanta is capable of.

May the Light Affect screens for free at the Plaza Theatre on Wed., July 14 at 7:30 pm.

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