Ainslie Henderson is an award winning animator and filmmaker who is presenting his short performance Adjust at the Manipulate Festival. The show is part of a double bill of moving image and performance work which also presents the films of scientific filmmaker, Eric Lucey (1923 -2010). Looking for Lucey showcases a selection of Lucey’s films with a soundtrack of music and spoken word by Hail of Bright Stones (J L Williams and James Iremonger). This special presentation has been curated by the queer feminist film collective Club des Femmes, who look to showcase a new interpretation of Lucey’s films.
To the side of the stage is a table on which sits a camera that faces downwards towards a glass plate. Ainslie narrates the story of Adjust and at the same time manipulates what appear to be salt or small white pebbles on the glass plate. As he talks, the audience hears the shutter of the camera opening and closing. The story of the show covers themes of memory, confusion, anxiety and love as it tells the tale of the animator meeting the singer Becky Unthank and how they ended up having a child together. As Adjust progresses, we see what the camera has been capturing and are presented with short stop-motion animation sequences. The animation includes windscreen-wipers brushing off rain, fireworks exploding, foetuses in the womb and eyes blinking. It is a novel and quirky presentation that combines storytelling and the moving image in a fresh and innovative style.
Lucey used a variety of techniques in his scientific and experimental moving image films, including time-lapses, stop motion, slow-motion and microphotography. There is something fascinating and captivating in his use of technique and style. We see bugs, plant life, kaleidoscopes, landscapes and architecture, each filmed with a level of precision and beauty that showcases a filmmaker in love with the subject matter. As the films are screened, James Iremonger sits to the side of the stage and behind a laptop. Here, he creates evocative and pensive soundscapes that complement the images. Poet and spoken word performer J L Williams adds another dimension to the event. Her words give the images an added weight and agency, helping to show the curiosity and wonder that Lucey brought to the screen. Experiencing the films in this method expresses how exciting and sensational the moving image can be.