Act / Shadow, 2006 (excerpt)
Running time: 11:03 minutes / SD / colour

Malcolm Goldstein preforms his composition “Gentle Rain Preceding mushrooms” (In memoriam John Cage). What is shown is the bow and the image’s negative.

Camera: Sylvia Safdie
Editing: Brigitte Dajczer, Sylvia Safdie
Audio: Composed and performed by Malcolm Goldstein

I first heard Malcolm Goldstein play his violin in a small get together in Vermont. He was playing his composition Gentle Rain Preceding Mushrooms (in memory of john Cage). Malcolm’s performance of this composition haunted me. I asked him if he was willing to collaborate with me.

At that time, I had just started collaborating with musicians. What interested me was exploring the relationship between sound/image, image/sound.

When Malcolm came over to my studio to play, I had no idea how I would proceed. As soon as he started playing, my camera zoomed onto the movement of the bow. It stayed there for the whole duration of the composition. In the editing process, I structured the footage into a diptych. On one side the original footage in which the bow moves in front of a white background; on the other side, the inverted footage, in which the bow moves in front of a black background.

Note: Act/Shadow is in the collection of the Museé de Quebec.

“The dual-ness of the dual-screen projection accommodates Safdie’s having composed the work as a simultaneous negative-positive projection, so that on the left screen, Goldstein’s bow is black against a white ground, while on the right screen, it’s a ghostly white bow moving through a shadowy black ground. Seen together, they incarnate all the important dualities: left-right, black-white, day-night, and, most profoundly, what poet William Blake called a being’s shadow and “emanation” — its positive or negative meaning in the world.” *
*Dault, Gary Michael, Sylvia Safdie at the Peak Gallery, Globe and Mail, Toronto. Nov. 4, 2006

About the musician: Malcolm Goldstein is a composer, violinist and improviser who has been active in the presentation of new music and dance since the early 1960s. He received an M.A. in music composition from Columbia University in 1960, having studied with Otto Luening. In the 1960s in New York City, he was a co-founder with James Tenney and Philip Corner of the Tone Roads Ensemble and was a participant in the Judson Dance Theatre, the New York Festival of the Avant-Garde and the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. Since then, he has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe, with solo concerts as well as with new music and dance ensembles.

This video was shown at the exhibition Act/Shadow at the LENTOS Museum of contemporary art), Linz, Austria in 2008. It is in the permanent collection of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.