Charles Atlas

USA (1958). Lives and works in New York

Ocean, 2012
Video, color, sound, 88’

Charles Atlas is one of the pioneers of the connection between video, dance, and performing arts. Ocean captures the work of the same name by Merce Cunningham and
John Cage, a homage to the novelist James Joyce who at the time of his death was contemplating writing a novel about the ocean. Cunningham and Cage’s idea consists of playing out a choreography on a stage set at the center of a space, allowing both the orchestra and the audience to be seated around it in concentric circles. Availing
himself of this unique scenography, Atlas plays with space, montage, different kinds of shots, and a combination of perspectives that allow him to capture the dancers’
movements. He splits the screen to offer a sense of simultaneity and multiplicity that enhances the audiovisual effect of the piece. It is as if he were consciously highlighting video’s limitations in capturing dance, even as he demonstrates its immense capacity.

For Atlas, the theatricality of dance and performance are elements of an investigation into artifice, fiction, and reality. In this line of inquiry he has collaborated with Marina Abramovic’ , Yvonne Rainer, and, especially, Merce Cunningham.