“Reverberations,” a double bill of Reverberlin (2006) and Snow in Vienna (2012), perfectly captured two sides of Michael Snow—the artist and the performer. A rare feat for any creative being to embody both qualities, it is less surprising that Snow can navigate these realms seamlessly, given his ability to shift between mediums. Sculpture, painting, holographic art, music, film, he masters each in innovative ways, pushing boundaries and ways of perception.
Reverberlin is Snow’s interpretation of a 2002 concert with his trio, co-founded in 1974 with John Oswald on alto sax and Paul Dutton’s “soundsinging.” With a background in jazz, Snow plays the piano, creating surrealist and exploratory compositions where sound ruptures lyricism. As only an audio track existed of the Berlin performance, Snow recreated the concert by adding footage from other performances, a method he described as being both “in synch and out of synch.” At times both startling and beautiful, in transposing images during duets or shifting focus to match prolonged or shortened notes Snow’s film attempts to visualize sound itself.
By contrast, Canadian Laurie Kwasnik’s Snow in Vienna is a conventional concert film. What will eventually become a part of her larger documentary project on Snow’s legacy, Fields of Snow, this short captures a performance by Snow last year in Vienna. Opening with Snow’s response to being asked to perform—he worried not only about the short time to prepare, but also playing in the city that was home to Mozart and Beethoven—the camera trains on his face and hands, largely allowing the music to take precedence over the images.
While the first short emphasized Snow’s creative vision, an imagining of his own perception of sound and music, Kwasnik’s feels more archival in intention. The pairing, however, created a neat and fruitful juxtaposition, which paints a portrait of an artist still very much in the prime of creativity.