An interactive digital work, hybrid documentary and fictional musical by Tatiana Pentes (Writer/Director) & Geoffrey Weary (Co-Development/ Cinematography & Photography), Eurydice Aroney (Producer), Roi Huberman (Sound Design), Glenn Remington (Interface Design), with music by Sergei Ermolaeff (Serge Ermoll). Produced in association with Screen Australia (AFC). Collected and archived by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) 2018. Online exhibition Australia-Japan New Media Gallery, Australian Embassy, JAPAN
Strange Cities has been exhibited inter/nationally & winner of Best Arts/Cultural Title/Site, AMY (AIMIA) Awards, 2000, and Most Innovative/Creative Multimedia Title, ATOM Awards, 2000, Australia. Acquired by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département audiovisuel / Multimédia, Paris, FRANCE 2015, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) Multimedia Collection, Australian Film & Television School (AFTRS) Library, University of Hawaii, University of Sydney, UTS, the National Library Australia and many inter/national archives.
Strange Cities was selected for Dart dLux Media Arts in partnership with Sydney Film Festival, 1999, Experimenta Media national travelling Exhibition, The Red Room, Institute of Modern Art (IMA) & promoted New Talent Pavilion, MILIA Games, Cannes, France in February 1999.
Strange Cities is an experimental interactive multimedia work authored for CD-Rom release and exhibition. Through the disclosure of evidence, Sasha dreams, discovers and remembers the exotic identity of her grandparents Xenia and Sergei Ermolaeff (a composer and orchestra leader) in fragments and traces of their music and struggle to survive the Russian and Chinese Communist Revolutions. The dulcet tones of the transatlantic voice of ABC Radio – Tony Baldwin as Newsreader deepen the nostalgia of this interactive drama/history.
The inspiration for the work is a tune of the same name Чужие города – by Alexander Vertinsky, Serge Ermoll and Ira Bloch, a musical illustration, an imaginary vision of old Shanghai (looking back to motherland Russia – St Petersberg), Chinese metropolis and international settlement which conjures mythic, filmic, musical and personal images of the city port. This musical team also created the legendary song Over The Rosy Sea/ The Pink Sea – Nad Rosavuim Morem (Над розовым морем). Alexander Vertinsky, was the originator of black Russian cabaret , where he embodied the figure of a dark Pierrot. His sojourn in Shanghai 1935 – 1943 via Harbin, China, before his return to soviet Russia (USSR), was fertile and he (founded) played the famous Russian cabaret clubs Gardenia, Arcadia, and Tkachenko’s with Oleg Lundstrem. His composition 1926 Дорогой длинною “Dorogoi dlinnoyu” – Endless (Faraway ) Road, was immortalised by the English lyrics of Gene Raskin, 1968, that world sings today as “Those Were the Days”.>
Coined capital of the international underworld, the city of Shanghai became a seductively strange locale symbolized in the Western imagination. In reality however the city was most often the final port of call for political refugees. The visual imagery for the project was shot in St Petersberg, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Sydney and involves found photographs, film footage, simulated radio archives, and original musical compositions.
Strange Cities experiments with performance, sound, image and text and their dramatic representation in the interactive environment. Providing a challenging approach to traditional modes of story-telling and music in the interface design, the user is provoked to discover the Strange Cities tune in the graphic portrayal of its musical script, sonic perception of its vocal lyric, and orchestration through user interactivity.
In the exploration of Strange Cities the user will experience a questioning of the relationship between fictional, biographical, historical and musical narrative possibilities produced through the slippage between and across a series of interactive screens. Participation with the interface provides for the user an experience which challenges traditional modes of narrative in audiovisual presentation, the perception of musical structure, storytelling and in historical, biographical and fictional texts in the multimedia environment.
Strange Cities was selected for the 1999 Experimenta Media Art CD-Rom Exhibition and has been promoted at the New Talent Pavilion, MILIA Games, Cannes, France in February 1999.
AWARDS & FESTIVALS
Best Arts/Cultural Title/ Site, Amy Awards, Australian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association (AIMIA) 2000, AUSTRALIA
Most Innovative/Creative Multimedia Production, Australian Teachers of Media, ATOM Awards 2000, AUSTRALIA
This project has been produced in association with Screen Australia (Australian Film Commission)
Strange Cities has been curated as part of the Australia-Japan New Media Gallery, Australian Embassy Japan http://newmedia.australia.or.jp/artist/info.php?name=tatiana
Xenia – Xenia Wayne; Sergei – Peter Tartarinoff; Newsreader – Tony Baldwin; Sasha (Voice) – Katya Rozenblit; Young Sasha (Visuals) – Isabella Manfredi; Rose Tsing (Visuals) – Rose Tang; Tango Dancers – Katya Rozenblit & Evan Darnley-Pentes, Serge Ermoll (Sergei Emolaeff) and Xenia Vladimirvna
Ultimately this project led to the production of a film produced in association with Screen Australia (AFC), Scenes From A Shanghai Hotel (2008) shot in the old Cathay Hotel (Peace Fairmont Hotel) Shanghai.