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Above Our Heads and Below Our Feet

Brian Gonzalez

A collection of multi-disciplinary experiences that allows one to ask bigger questions about their fears and values

Details
ABOVE OUR HEADS & BELOW OUR FEET is a five-year long multi-disciplinary project starting in 2013 with a two-fold mission: the production of the film series Above Our Heads & Below Our Feet ideated and directed by award-winning filmmaker Brian Gonzalez (AKA Taxiplasm) and the creation of a collective of experimental artists, scientists, engineers and musicians developing interactive, performance-based experiences inspired by the film. Both the film series and the artistic community have the purpose of guiding audiences on a spiritual journey to examine one’s identity and question the origin of one’s fears and values in the face of the regressive institutions that bind them. 

The first film of the series, Above our Heads, follows a family in the throes of a mythical storm, abandoned by God and mankind alike, each as brave as they are wicked, and as courageous as they are coward. Under the threat of a brute tiger with its young perched upon a mountaintop, the family struggles toward higher ground fighting the current to save each other. Yet, each superlatively betrays one another to assure their own safety resulting in a devastating climax.  By examining the evolution of timeless archetypes, from mother and child to man versus animal, the film wrestles with themes of responsibility, guilt, and interdependence. Rather than using any dialogue, we intend to unconventionally implement classic religious and mythological iconography of the great Deluge, and an intense language of body and image.  

Below our feet, the second film, expands on the themes of the first by broadening the concept of institution from family to religion in a given society and asks how far one can allow oneself to be subservient to an idea, even at the risks of the ones we love. In a dark and desolate cave, a primitive underground civilization grows, basing its religion and society on the birds that emerge above them through a distant fissure on top of their primordial altar where the only source of light is shed. But when a devout mother discovers her son is sprouting wings through the protruding sores on his back, she attempts to protect his secret. When it is discovered, the clergy shame the prepubescent boy as a false prophet and ignite a harrowing backlash of the entire underground village against them. With her son in her arms, surrounded by ravenous natives, she succumbs to their pressures and severs his wings.

Consistent with the previous film, an unconventional absence of dialogue is combined with a culturally diverse language of movement, close to that of dance theater. Audiences are facilitated to question who we fear, who we love, and how far we will go or not go for the ones we love when it demands the bravery of independent thinking. 

The performance series - Collisions - will focus on multi-sensory experiences combining performance, installation, technology, and the active biology of the audience. Similarly to the movies, Collisions intends to guide audiences on a spiritual journey to examine questions of identity and to challenge how we see and manipulate the walls that separate us from the Other. The series will be co-produced with Contaminate, an experiential arts organization specialized in immersive creative experiences. 

These performances will develop as four productions over two years, in a sequence that goes from the parent-to-child cycle of conditioning to traumatic betrayal in a first-time-encounter with the Other, followed by redemption and forgiveness and, finally, reconciliation. 

Each production will unfold as a multi-sensory experience where performance, installation,technology and the active biology of the audience are combined to challenge our perception and interaction with the Other. Ultimately, each experience will become an unspoken conversation of mind, body, spirit, and space between people, where the invisible walls that separate us suddenly become real, unless our bodies disagree.