The Light Surgeons' live mixing of visuals and music tells a story about race and politics in Malaysia

Audio-visual artists The Light Surgeons are bringing their special brand of documentary video making to the UK after an extensive tour of east Asia.

Click HERE to see the gallery of the Light Surgeon's work.

Their current project, SuperEverything, combines live video mixing, recorded gamelan music and live string instruments, to create a multi-layered performance about, race, identity and British colonial history in Malaysia.

Commissioned by the British Council, and with additional funding from the Arts Council England it has been created in collaboration with some of Malaysia’s most high-profile artists and musicians.

For this new UK leg of the tour, members of the Heritage Orchestra will play viola, cello and violin live on stage alongside Malaysian musician Ng Chor Guan.

The immersive performance includes recordings of Malaysian musicians, archive images from Malaysia's industrial past, and video footage showing the country's contemporary rituals and attitudes.

"Race is very much something people talk about there. People ask you, "What are you? are you Malay or Chinese or Indian?" It is ingrained in their politics there are echoes of colonial Britain's involvement in Malaysia there," says Tim Cowie, audio visual artist, specialising in documentary film making and long-term Surgeons collaborator.

Christopher Thomas Allen, one of the original founders, began the group in 1994, when they worked in clubs, providing visual elements for club nights. They very quickly became more interested in film and the possibilities of live digital performance.

"Our approach has been from a slightly DJ-ing angle, although we don't like the term, we are exploring subject matter and it is a more metaphorical textural form than a classic documentary."

The performance has evolved since the Surgeons first performed in Kuala Lumpa last year, adding photography of Malaysia from photo agency Getty's archive and microscopy images from Cambridge Science Labs.

"We feed people's tweets into the show as it happens and keep up with developments in the country. In Malaysia in the next few weeks there will be an important political election and we hope to include that in the show. So it's a synthesis of what's happening now. The footage is already very different from how it started out"

In the live performance, the documentary, which took about a year to prepare, is packaged into groups from which the Surgeons select clips, which radiate out onto large projected screens and images are subverted and juxtaposed to create thought-provoking motifs.

"We are cutting to different things on the fly but the metaphors and significance are pre-planned and we actively play with that nuance, so it's not your classic, linear Hollywood movie," explains  Allen.


SuperEverything is at various UK arts venues from 9 March 2013 to 19 April 2013.

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