One of the most exciting film events happening in Chicago this winter is not a movie playing in a commercial theater but rather an installation involving the simultaneous projection of four short films at the Hyde Park Art Center’s Kanter McCormick Gallery. The Latest Sun is Sinking Fast, the latest work by local experimental filmmaker Melika Bass (Shoals), offers more of the beautiful, yet vaguely terrifying, portraits of souls in isolation in which this artist seems to specialize. Each of the shorts depicts an individual alone, but nonetheless “performing”: A man writes a manifesto in a wood shop then recites it aloud to no one; a young woman sings a hymn in an empty cathedral; a man plays the piano after listening to a recording of a sermon in his car; and the same woman from the church reappears to wash her hands in a river.
The most impressive aspect of this exhibit is the way these fragmented narratives seem to interact (or not interact) depending on where one is standing in the dimly lit gallery. It is never possible to see all four images simultaneously, although one can see each image along with two of the others in the periphery. This “choose your own adventure” aspect is greatly aided by the sound design, always a highlight in Bass’s work. Different audio tracks (the sounds of a woman cleaning herself in a public restroom, spoken and sung texts referencing war and God, crickets chirping, a river running, etc.) emanate from different speakers to create an awesome stereophonic experience. The sounds—even more than the images—are responsible for pulling spectators into a kind of nightmarish but strangely comfortable whirlpool.
The Latest Sun Is Sinking Fast runs through April 19. For more info visit the Hyde Park Art Center website.