Junk visualized for the stage

Picture this: It’s the year 2063 and you’ve long abandoned this world as just another uncelebrated mortal – a mere government statistic in the births and deaths registries. You’ve left behind no memorable legacy of any sort, and surviving personal belongings you once cherished have been mercilessly scattered, or even dumped. But, thanks to the odd habits of a certain few, as well as advanced technology, you might have earned some posthumous fame. The faces of a fair number of deceased «nobodies» will be rising from the dead at an audiovisual performance in Athens tomorrow night by Nikos Veliotis, an accomplished local cellist, who will use trashed-but-found photographs for his show’s visual side. Veliotis, a classically trained musician with a penchant for the peculiar, as indicated by his extensive activity in the unorthodox musical field of free improvisation, both locally and abroad, culled and downloaded the old photographs from «found photography» websites, set up to salvage and display trashed bygone shots of anybody – or anything. For the performance, one hour long and titled «Vomvos» (Drone), Veliotis has juxtaposed, or even overlaid, photographs for a sequenced video that will be accompanied by a minimalistic drone from the musician’s cello. The sounds will be interspersed by total silence for short stretches as long as three minutes, he noted. «I wanted the sound to induce a feeling of isolation from reality,» said Veliotis in a telephone interview. «Besides that, this is the manner in which I’ve been playing lately,» he added. As for the performance’s visual side, though its components proved to be trash for some, Veliotis remarked that the «found photographs» culled by him were visually interesting in their own right. Others, he added, may have been poor pictures during their era, but had acquired artistic worth over time. The subject matter of «Vomvos» includes people as well as objects, some of these unidentifiable, from various parts of the world. Veliotis said he had favored technicolor prints from the 1960s and ’70s. «A bad picture from the ’70s, for example, is different 30 years on. As I see it, it may have gained visual significance. The kitsch explosion of the 1980s helped add interest to that period,» Veliotis said. Sifting through the sites, Veliotis said the discoveries were, as can be presumed, limitless. «You’ll find almost anything. There’s one site focused on the subject of women and their dogs,» he quipped. Some of the project’s appeal, Veliotis admitted, lay in what he felt was a voyeuristic dimension, or the sudden ability to look into a stranger’s home. «There’s a bit of the gossip element in this, when you’re passing by a stranger’s home and you look through the curtains to see a moment in the life of another person,» Veliotis said. «And there’s always interest in gossip.» Veliotis, a former member of the respected Orchestra of Colors in Athens, recently abandoned its ranks to focus on less disciplined musical activity. Two years ago, the cellist founded the Greek leg of 2:13, a three-way network for improvised and experimental music, with older posts in London and Berlin. Events in Athens have included influential acts in the experimental field, including Fred van Hove and John Bisset. Tomorrow, 9.30 p.m., Thiseion Theater, 7 Tournavitou, Psyrri.