His passion for videos began with car trunk sales of projectors,negatives and other stuff junked by cinema owners in the sleepy town of Newcastle in England. Christopher Allen,a media design student,would also pore over cult sci-fi films on rented VHS tapes. Soon,he and his friends were creating a documentary of their own,The Chimera Project,which captured the passion for football that Newcastle is famous for. By 2001,these audio-visual dabblers had matured into a collective called The Light Surgeons. We work with different forms of light,hence our name, says Allen.
This evening,the group,which counts U2,The Rolling Stones and Warner Brothers among collaborators,will present a multimedia show in Mumbai with Tim Cowie as part of their first and multi-city tour of India.
Last week,they performed in Delhi at the UnBox festival,and will travel to Bangalore after Mumbai for their final gig of the tour. Our intention always has been to make something that transcends cultural boundaries,and create projects that are cross-disciplinary. Our aim is to bring a musical approach to cinema and a cinematic approach to our music, says Allen about the performance organised by the British Council and Delhi-based organisation,BLOT!
Interestingly,their gig this evening is not at any of the numerous bars or clubs in the city,but at Edward Talkies,Kalbadevi,which remains one of the last standing independent movie theatres in the city. For the night,this theatre that in many years has hosted nothing beyond occasional film screenings will be a transformed venue,complete with bar.
For this tour,the group has brought in two recent productions called Super Everything and LDN Redux. The latter presents a portrait of London,exploring the city as an organism,while the former,created in collaboration with Malaysian musicians and visual artistes,traces the themes of identity,ritual and place through a journey across the country. Its all about treating a city as an organism and an idea,rather than the mediums, says Allen about using photography,videos and graphics to tell these stories.
Allen adds that working with fashion designer Alexander McQueen was one of his most rewarding experiences. We created the visuals for his after-show party in Paris and the theme was Vertigo. There were a lot of Hitchcock references, he says,adding that he was treating this trip to India,their first,as a research mission to explore who we can collaborate with.
(With inputs from Zaira Arslan)