‘New Cosmic Mix: Now In 5D!' —Transcendental Live Video Performance

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Vela Phelan's "HEXbeam." (Courtesy of the artist)
Vela Phelan's "HEXbeam." (Courtesy of the artist)

What is the fifth dimension?

When it comes to “A New Cosmic Mix: now in 5D!,” a night of experimental sound and video projected onto the 57-foot-high dome of the Museum of Science’s Charles Hayden Planetarium, it means trippy, psychedelic, hypnotic, flickering, glitchy, fluorescent, kaleidoscoping, transcendental awesomeness.

“I want people to consider that other dimensions exist beyond us,” says Maggie Cavallo, who is organizing 90-minute screenings at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. May 12. “The fifth dimension is this proposed extra dimension that exists beyond our space.”

The lineup includes Vela Phelan, D'hana Perry, Bathaus (a solo project by Ashley Capachione), Bobby Andres, and Yassie Goldie (the invented persona of a local art collective).

The performers are in effect video DJs creating pulsing montages of bats, female body builders, a tiger, a man’s chest, television news flying graphics and the like live at the planetarium. As Cavallo says of Phelan’s work, “The way a DJ would do it with sound—live sampling, cutting, remixing—he does with imagery.” Much of the imagery is found, but Cavallo says, “D’hana has reinvented the documentary” by incorporating original video interviews of transgender people of color. “The content is presented as a live video and live audio performance.”

Cavallo had been mulling the project for months when she was invited by Alexis Avedisian, arts coordinator for the Together Festival, to put it on as part of their weeklong of extravaganza of electronic dance music beginning Sunday. The Together folks suggested the Boston planetarium as a venue.

So on top of it all, Darryl Davis, the planetarium systems coordinator, will project background images of stars, clouds, “trippy tubes” and “weird blobs”—things, Cavallo says, “that make you feel like you’re moving when you’re not moving and images that make you feel like you’re hallucinating when you’re not hallucinating.”

“A New Cosmic Mix” is a utopian project, evoking animated Web gifs as well as echoes of 1960s and ‘70s Age of Aquarius light shows, hallucinogenic drugs, expanded cinema, New Age philosophy, and even the foundations of the Internet’s hive-mind. It’s about psychedelic experiences as a route to a higher state of consciousness.

Cavallo says, “The architecture, the space, is so primary—the fact that we can have four independent projectors projecting up and the viewer is literally looking up like at the cosmos or outer space.”

This article was originally published on May 09, 2013.

This program aired on May 9, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Greg Cook Twitter Arts Reporter
Greg Cook was an arts reporter and critic for WBUR's The ARTery.