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Sinuous Flow, Gelatinous Form – Paul Prudence’s Mylar Topology

The Mylar Topology is a new panoramic performance piece by (southeast) London-based audiovisual artist Paul Prudence. Zooming into an amorphous zone of bubbling liquid deformation and scored by binaural drones, it contemplatively gazes into ever-evolving viscous texturescape. Oscillating between shimmering striation and gelatinous flow, its ambiguous forms allude to arrayed vertebral columns and congealing oil slicks. “It hints at macroscopic galactic genesis and microscopic rheological evolutions, simultaneously,” answers Prudence when asked about its aesthetic. “For a long time I’ve been unable to rid my mind of Ira Cohen’s lysergic film Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda, which I learned he filmed by pointing his camera at reflections of distorted Mylar sheets to create visual effects.” He has taken that vintage optics and material-focused kernel of inspiration and morphed it into something new – and immersive. His statement about the project reveals a little more about its inner-workings:

Slowly transforming abstractions of iridescent wavelets and hyperchromatic emulsions are synchronised to binaural drones (known for their entrainment properties) and field recordings that add a subtle layer of texture. By combining the oscillation frequencies of the audio visual field it is possible to entrain the brain. It has been noted that brainwaves, or neural oscillations, share the fundamental constituents with acoustic and optical wave forms, including frequency, amplitude, and periodicity.

Drones and frequency are probably the key words there, as the teaser video of the (fragments) he has recently posted online definitely have a hypnotic quality. “Because the camera is zoomed in so close, the typical liquid topologies are highly abstracted and become graphic and striated – even geological.”

↑ Letterbox-ed: even when ‘reduced’ to full HD these Mylar Topology stills reveal worlds of detail.

The piece is generated by a single vvvv patch. “But with many many transformation and distortions on the projection view, camera view and the bubble surface itself,” Prudence says of his process. “Many blend mode effects – very underrated – have been used to create the colours, specularity and transparency. It’s a really simple patch tweaked and tweaked to arrive at the desired effects.” He also generated the binaural beats and layered them with some field recordings from his archives – and the sound is mixed in Ableton Live.

When it is premiered later this spring, The Mylar Topology will span three screens and its (improvised) performance will have a duration of around 20-25 minutes. Prudence is already in conversation with festival programmers in Europe and North America about the work and it will be interesting to see the ‘life’ it takes on through iterative performance. It definitely diverges from his Cyclotone series (2012-15), which fired up machinelike calibrations within an ornate device that might best be described as a pataphysical particle accelerator; in it sound and image were totally unified, in this new project the relationship is more ambiguous. “I’ve felt a bit too restricted in the past with these very direct audiovisual relationships and synchronisations,” Prudence says of the change in tactics. “Time for a looser approach.”

Preview the work via the embed below – fullscreen and headphones are mandatory!

Paul Prudence
See also: Patch Schematics – The Aesthetics of Constraint / Best Practices

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