Travelling inside the planets of the mind

A cosmic contemplation of ancient myth, shown in a planetarium, is today's big adventure

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Still from A Song For Echo 5 A Song For Echo

All this month, we're tripping out with daily adventure stories. Iconic journeys, recent travels, sideways looks at out-there places and the sharpest of shots of the world’s underreported zones. Everest to Ibiza. Sahara to Big Sur. Under the sea to higher than God. Check back daily on dazeddigital.com/tripping. Right now, however, we're journeying waaaay out into the cosmos, ancient mythology and the minds with a radical new Boston film project. 

If you've studied ancient mythology, the stories of Echo and Narcissus will be familiar. Alternatively, you may have simply observed the world around you and the contemporary mythologies we've constructed around ourselves. Like the doomed lovers, we're all enamored with the sound of our own voices, and transfixed by our own visage.

That infatuation is the jumping off point for “A Song Echo” a multi-media collaboration between Brooklyn visual artist Julie Nymann and Boston electronic producer Ricardo Donoso. The film, which forces us to contemplate our place in the cosmos, while also reflecting on our own microcosmic universe of the self, will, rather appropriately, be shown for the first time on the grand, arching dome of the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Boston Museum of Science on September 26.

“I think the film deals a lot with our relationship to the cosmos, so the venue itself is very fitting, curator Alexis Avedesian says. “Despite being a technologically advanced film with an all digital soundtrack, the content is jarringly natural. There are no traces of technology in the plot.  The central character, who I view as a version of Echo from greek folklore, discovers her identity as she exists as part of the natural world, just as the ancient nymph did.  It is as if technology had never been invented.”

In the film we follow her as she wanders through a cornfield or a forest, later consumed by the water of a river. “It's extremely humanizing,” Avedesian says, in the way it forces us to think about whether or not we are the focal point of the universe we so often assume we are.

That's a topic that producer Donoso has long been concerned with in his music. His recent Assimilating the Shadow took a strong thematic influence from Carl Jung's concept of the “the shadow.” Like that record, Donoso's score here opens up vast musical landscapes through minimal instrumentation, then collapses inward on itself for moments of striking isolation. Those concepts carry over into the film as well, he says. “To me this film is entirely about self-reflection, the inherent dualities in all of us and transformation. I think the score magnifies this process of individuation. Jung maintained that we are profoundly ignorant of ourselves and that our most pressing task is to deflect our gaze away from the external world and toward the study of our own nature, which is something I resonate very strongly with, and as the film and hopefully the score demonstrate, this can get quite dark and uncomfortable.”

“Conceptually, my work is about the duality of attraction and repulsion, which is made evident in many mythological tales,' Nymann elaborated. The result, when projected on the dome here makes for an all-consuming, disorienting immersion. The audience will feel pulled into the film, she says. 

I think this draws an interesting parallel to the metaphors presented. Narcissus hovered over a pool of water, staring at his reflection until his body deteriorated. From his point of view, there was only his own reflection. Visually, there are segments in this film in which the viewers may also feel trapped. Things feel scarily close.”

As it should. The universe is a big place, except when its frighteningly small.

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