Fringe POP [Performance over Projection] :: A Conversation with Paul Moon

Written on September 22, 2016

This October we are launching a new yearly series called Fringe POP [Performance over Projection]. We are pairing short films with 10-Minute plays for a dynamic experience mixing live and still projections, theatre and film. We are using projections of local spots (like the BP next-door) as a moving panorama for each 10-Minute play with inserted live-feed from an on-stage cameraman.

This years focus is on how do we experience public vs. private space? With a world of knowledge and connectivity in everyone’s pocket, does privacy even exist? What happens when what we perceive as private is also perceived as public? Short films are paired thematically with 10-minute plays to create two distinctive presentations: Public and Private.

Lee Cromwell, who works as Fringe’s Admin Assistant during the day has taken on the role of Producer/Curator of all eight 10-Minute plays in the series. Lee recently chatted with Paul Moon, a DC-Based filmmaker. His work Escalators Become Stairs is one of the eight short films in the series.

How do you make a distinction between private and public space?

When I think about the difference, I think about what has changed recently, when it comes to the blurring of the lines between the two. It’s as if there is a 3rd character, virtual space, which serves to increase our ability to select between the two.

The arts have a longer history of being public experiences in the performative sense, while there was also a wider practice of crafts in the private sense – people expressing themselves privately without declaring themselves artists in the professional sense, or on social media, for that matter. What concerns me is that public spaces have become more private. Look around on the Metro or on the street, where everyone has their nose in a smartphone. In my opinion, fixed media like cinema has become almost completely private. This realization fueled interest in creating a conceptual film showing these private mobile devices in a public space with a collective consciousness.

What is your involvement in Fringe POP? Tell us something interesting about your component of the event.

My film Escalators Become Stairs is one of the short films featured in the Public track. The film originated from a site-specific performance organized by James S. Adams and other sound artists in DC area associated with Sonic Circuits, who recently had their annual festival at Capital Fringe for the first time.

The film is “reverse-conceived” to show the figures in the film broadcasting what we hear in the final production. I think it is interesting that the musical score and poetry evolved in post-production, almost as a “before the fact” juxtaposed performance of the sound score.

What is the most interesting thing that you have discovered in exploring public/private space?

One thing I discovered during the making of the film is the serendipity of the location, the Dupont Circle Metro station. This location has a cultural significance in terms of what that area historically means to DC. The film is able to build on this significance and combine it with the rich history conveyed in Walt Whitman’s poetry.

The immediacy of today’s climate of conflict and war and the various debates on how to address these problems is in there, too. I think this film, and art in particular, gives us concrete ways to deal with these feelings. Art can respond to tragedies and terrorism by making an argument, but maybe the most authentic thing it can do is to create an architecture for grieving – a cathedral, if you will, inside the brutal architecture of the Dupont Circle Metrorail station.

What do you want the audience to take with them or experience from your film?

The Metro is a vital part of the patchwork of DC, yet most of us scurry through it without a second thought. Sometimes though, when we take the time to pay attention, we watch the cinematic crane shots and lateral pans go by us. We might then notice the concrete stains, the architecture, and the other people going here and there on their own way. This film was created as a minimalist film, yet built on a tradition of maximalism. I wanted to create something that invites expansion of the smaller details into fuller view.

Are you a more private or public person? How would your friends describe you in this category?

I think I would describe myself as extremely private. It might be a shyness. It also might be that I prefer solitude. But, it’s also grounded in a melancholy, coming to grips with how any personal trajectory competes against the exaggeration and loudness of so many public statements. It could be social media, or an obsessive celebrity culture, but it also could be the explosion of creativity ignited by technology, which in the end could be a great thing. Now the dilemma is, what do I have to add? It’s tempting to create art in privacy, and let it stay there, without begging for attention.

Escalators Become Stairs by Paul Moon: Under the inscribed granite words of Walt Whitman, a site-specific performance at the Dupont Metro Station captured on smartphones, cassette recorders and hand-held sound producers are combined with Morse Code and MIDI transcription of the poem.

With only one weekend of performances we encourage you to snag your tickets early. October 6-9, Logan Fringe Arts Space 1358 Florida Ave NE.

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Fringe POP [Performance over Projection] :: A Conversation with Renana Fox
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Fringe POP [Performance over Projection] :: A Conversation with Playwright Mark Scharf
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