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Friday, February 23, 2024

Documentary promises an ever-changing experience at this year’s Open Waters Festival

No two screenings of the music performance documentary Now.Here.This. will be the same.

Halifax’s annual new music festival, the 2024 Open Waters Festival, kicks off with the streaming music performance documentary Now.Here.This. (NHT) from award-winning filmmaker Christopher Spencer-Lowe and Upstream Music Association’s artistic director Lukas Pearse.

In what organizers promise to be an ever-changing experience, chance operations and randomizing algorithms are used to create a new and unique experience every time it’s seen. In other words, no two screenings will be the same.

It is a project that forced Spencer-Lowe and Pearse to rethink their approach to filmmaking in what they call a celebration of the “improvisational form and philosophy of being in the moment.”

For NHT, I had to both imagine and plan for what image and sound could end up together and yet surrender control over that to a greater degree than I was comfortable with. But that’s the whole idea isn’t it; surrendering, listening and approaching the work from an improvisational perspective. – Lukas Pearse

“Cinema is literally built around the idea that you have an unchanging thing you can show at the end of all the work. You control every frame the viewer sees and when and how they see it,” says Pearse. “For NHT, I had to both imagine and plan for what image and sound could end up together and yet surrender control over that to a greater degree than I was comfortable with. But that’s the whole idea isn’t it; surrendering, listening and approaching the work from an improvisational perspective.”

A behind-the-scenes look at shooting Now.Here.This. Photo by Ryan Gray.
A behind-the-scenes look at shooting Now.Here.This. Photo by Ryan Gray.

Director Pearse had been experimenting with randomizing techniques in his filmmaking process for some time and was excited by the idea presented by Lukas for NHT.

“The concept of a live improvisational music documentary presented inside of a changing yet loosely structured film was a perfect opportunity to use web-based algorithms to employ aleatoric approaches more directly,” says Pearse. “We also saw the potential to put the viewer into the flow state of mind that comes with improvising at the same time as taking a snapshot of the improv music scene in Halifax as it was starting to re-emerge.”

The documentary showcases the diverse music and ideas of six exceptionally talented Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki-based composers: Alan Syliboy, Amy Brandon, Geordie Haley, India Gailey, Mohammad Sahraei, and Samantha Wilson.

Now.Here.This. receives its live launch on January 8 as part of the opening night of the 2024 Open Waters Festival. At the same time, audiences can experience NHT in its ever-changing form from the comfort of their screens through a link on the Upstream Music Association website.

Now.Here.This. plays as part of the 2024 Open Waters Festival presented by the Upstream Music Association. The new music festival runs at various locations in Halifax from January 8-14. Visit upstreammusic.org for more information.

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