Urban Space Epics is a project started by author/programmer/performance-poet Darrell Jónsson
in the 1980s as a framework to combine 20th century experimental film techniques, innovative music, and epic narrative chants into live expanded cinema.
Visually the camera is the paint brush and projectors are musical instruments. Using montages of found images combined with photography and footage filmed on location at sites that include Mexico, Spain and Morocco. Film sequences often feature a form of stop frame animation using shapes abstracted from urban architecture and plant life as a base material.
Musically the live soundtrack of Urban Space Epics uses Moog synthesizer, kalimbas, marimba, woodwinds and a variety of electronic and ethnic instruments. These instruments combine in motifs and methods inspired by Dinaric Gusla, Icelandic Rímur, Slavonic and Native American folklore, Rock and Soul, Krautrock, free jazz and 20th century contemporary music.
The “text” in the narrative performance is all composed in memory, and left open to live improvisation. using pre-literate mechanisms of storytelling and epic chant, that illustrate colorful adventures.
These episodes include; Flowers over the Starboard (the untold discovery of the Americas by a lone frantic rowboat enthusiast from the 7th century), King of the Bluemen (a 19th century legionnaire soldier enjoying a life transforming night of Berber hospitality), L.A. Woman meets Maria Sabina ( a fashionable Californian motorist taking a freeway exit leading to a Mesoamerican myth-world), Ishi (the lonely last member of a decimated forest tribe walking for the last time out of the wilderness garden to join the conquering “host civilization”).
While previously using only film for visuals, currently Urban Space Epics is now exploring a hybrid of digital and celluloid motion media and projection systems. While hard grained 35mm slides are still being developed for multi-projector sequences content is also being built for HD and 4K video projection.