Britta Johnson

Share This Place: Stories and Observations [KLP201]

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This DVD features twelve short films constructed to animate live performances of songs from Mirah and the Spectratone International's album Share This Place, Stories and Observations [KLP181].

Share This Place is a music and film collaboration between Mirah, Spectratone International and Britta Johnson. It was co-commissioned by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art and The Seattle International Children’s Festival. The DVD release combines the music created by Mirah and Spectratone International with the stop motion films created by Britta Johnson to animate the live performances that first debuted at the Seattle International Children’s Festival in May 2007.

For this project Mirah and long-time collaborator Kyle Hanson composed a song cycle inspired by the tragic and triumphant lives of insects. Along with their trademark cello and accordion, Spectratone International features percussionist Jane Hall and Kane Mathis on oud (middle eastern lute). Their sound is full, subtle and meticulously rendered, moving easily among a wide range of influences, from early music to folk to psychedelia.

Britta Johnson, founder of the Kenosha Motion Picture Institute, has created luminous stop-motion animated films for each of the songs. The insects - created out of corks, ashtrays, old balloons and other bits of domestic debris - are seen singing, hatching, rolling balls of dung and fulfilling their destinies.

Inspired in part by influential French scientist/poet J. Henri Fabré, Mirah’s lyrics smartly humanize the trials and pleasures of the insect world, touching on themes of villainy, seduction, self-sacrifice and love. Shining a light on the epic complexity of the insect world, the songs imply an inescapable comparison with our own. Along with a host of other sources Share This Place draws visual inspiration from Karel Čapek’s surrealist Insect Play where the epic and dramatic lives of insects are given human characteristics to extenuate the similarities between humans and insects in work and desire. The music and corresponding videos explore the tender, dramatic, sordid, tragic and triumphant lives of insects