KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — Over a decade ago, when British media artists Christopher Thomas Allen and Tim Cowie of The Light Surgeons came here to work on a multimedia collaboration, they never imagined that they were embarking on a wild exploration through the multiverse that is Malaysia.
After several weeks of imbibing and observing the urban, natural and social landscapes of peninsula Malaysia, and after many hours of workshops and experimentation with local musicians and visual artists, the contours of a landmark collaborative project began to take shape.
The result of this UK-Malaysia collaboration was SuperEverything*, a live cinema performance project that explores identity, ritual and place in relation to Malaysia’s past, present and future.
Commissioned by the British Council in 2011, it is a fusion of music, field recordings, filmmaking and real-time moving image that transports its audiences on a journey through a series of universal narratives — tradition and modernity, globalisation and development, race and national identity, consumer culture and belief.
The Malaysian collaborators were acclaimed composer Ng Chor Guan, experimental soundscapist Flica, percussion ensemble HANDS 1 Percussion, gamelan ensemble Rhythm in Bronze, visual artist Fauzi Yusoff and motion designer Fariz Hanapiah.
Weaving through the audio-visual experience are commentaries by cultural figures including writer and cultural historian Eddin Khoo, novelist and poet Bernice Chauly, sustainability expert Khairun Nisa Zabidi and visual artists Sau Bin Yap and Lim Kok Yoong.
The Light Surgeons also travelled to Kelantan, where Pusaka put them in touch with the shadow puppet performers of Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka, who are featured in the film.
On February 25, the British Council in collaboration with The Light Surgeons, Pusaka and Ilham Gallery are presenting a screening of a SuperEverything* performance recorded at the Hackney Empire in London in 2013.
The film screening at Ilham Gallery will be interspersed with a series of discussions with The Light Surgeons and their Malaysian collaborators.
The discussion will delve into the project process while looking at how it has evolved and still resonates with the changing complexities of Malaysian society today.
Christopher Thomas Allen (left) and Tim Cowie embarked on a wild exploration through the multiverse that is Malaysia over 10 years ago. — Picture courtesy of SuperEverything*, The Light Surgeons
“SuperEverything* is a landmark live cinema project, a truly cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural collaboration with audio and visual messages that transcend one place and one culture,” said Christopher Thomas Allen, founder and creative director of The Light Surgeons.
The Light Surgeons have also released a vinyl and digital album of their music from SuperEverything* on UK record label Utter. It features nine original tracks that make up the musical score to the ground-breaking project.
For more details, visit http://www.supereverything.net.