The End Of Cinematics

Conceived, written, and directed by Mikel Rouse

Produced by Mikel Rouse
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Double M Arts & Events

Drawing on the richness of the good old days of cinema with live music and a thoroughly modern, “hyper-real” film experience with multiple screens and surround sound, Mikel Rouse’s The End Of Cinematics examines the 21st-century phenomenon of viewing media content in fragmented form. From channel surfing to MTV to formulaic Hollywood films and sitcoms, we’re accustomed to—and adept at—filling in the details of storylines, of grasping an idea and determining its conclusion.

Inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1996 New York Times article “The Decay of Cinema” and her 1997 essay “A Century of Cinema,” Mikel Rouse adds to the discourse on the art of cinema. Drawing on the history of cinema from its early days with live music to today’s sophisticated sound and effect experiences, as well as our familiarity with music videos and MTV, Mikel Rouse asks if film experiences challenge us the way they once did. He asks if the communal cinematic experience still alters our existence or if it impacts us in other ways.

As a dreamlike meditation on the possibilities of cinema, The End Of Cinematics reflects on the way corporate entertainment has transformed the art of cinema and suggests that plot and screenplay have become artifice. Mikel Rouse elevates the pop-tinged musical score to a position of prominence; by favoring sound over image and dialogue, The End Of Cinematics examines but one of the many possibilities afforded filmmakers, performers, and videographers at the beginning of the 21st century. By adding elements of form and structure, and by juxtaposing music and lyrics, images and narrative, live performance and video, Mikel Rouse creates an immersive, sensual experience that embodies a thoughtful and creative approach to 21st-century art.

The End Of Cinematics is the third part of an “opera verité” trilogy consisting of Failing Kansas and the critically-acclaimed “talk show” opera Dennis Cleveland. Each of these works combines live performance with original music and video/film; each makes use of Rouse’s counterpoetry technique, the use of multiple unpitched voices in counterpoint to create a layering effect with multiple textual meanings. The works are linked thematically in that they refer to American popular culture and how America looks at religion and spirituality.

Failing Kansas, based on events surrounding the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, was inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Using diaries and letters of the murderers, trial transcripts, and fragments of well-known verse, Mikel Rouse performs with preacherly gestures against an abstract film backdrop by Cliff Baldwin, overlaying the text on his pre-recorded score to create a beguiling counterpoint.

As it highlights the ritual function of the television talk show, Dennis Cleveland breaks the “fourth wall”—the divide between performers and audience—allowing for interaction between everyone involved in the performance experience. Mikel Rouse performs as a combination of talk show host and master director, leading on the talk show guests and testifying audience members. As it comments on the packaging and content of the contemporary cinematic experience, The End Of Cinematics presents original film footage manipulated through computer generated imaging to provide video backdrops or stage sets for live performers. The performers and backdrops are then captured live on video and montaged onto a front-projected scrim, creating a live, 3D film right before our eyes.

The End Of Cinematics Photo Gallery