Floating Oceans

Alexis Gideon, Floating Oceans, 2012 © Alexis Gideon

Alexis Gideon – Video Musics III

Screening with live music + conversation

28.3 2014


The American musician and animator Alexis Gideon (b. 1980) performs the third part of his multimedia work Video Music. The stop-motion animation Floating Oceans (2012) was inspired by the Irish writer Lord Dunsany and the physicist John William Dunne’s theories on time and dreams. The music are performed live by the artist.

“First Class” – Wired Magazine

“Beautiful and strange” – New York Post

Alexis Gideon dissolves the boundaries between established genres such as performing arts, film and music. In his practice, he opens doors to worlds that are not physically tangible, and to experiences beyond rationality. He tours with his performances and animations to art institutions, festivals and obscure clubs. Alone on stage, Gideon performs all the music and raps or sings the dialogue in synch with the characters in the film.

Previous parts of his acclaimed film trilogy Video Musics were based on Hungarian folk tales or Sun Wukong, the Chinese 16th-century epic story of the Monkey King. The third part, Floating Oceans from 2012, which is shown here, harks back to Irish literature. The writer Lord Dunsany’s early fantasy novels and the philosopher and aeronautical engineer John William Dunne’s ideas on time and dreams have influenced the work, which is dedicated to the writer and playwright Flann O’Brien.* Gideon often processes existing literary works or myths in his animations and compositions, which alternate deftly between electronica, hip hop, and psychedelia. The core of his expression is the narrative act itself, live before an audience.

Alexis Gideon’s works have parallels in other contemporary artists who employ animation, where music plays an essential part in the storyline, including William Kentridge (South Africa), Wael Shawky (Egypt), and Nathalie Djurberg (Sweden). There is also a certain affinity with surrealist art, which explores dream states and the subconscious, both for subject matter and approach. But Gideon also draws from the tradition of doll animation in American independent film that is perhaps best known for the legendary Brothers Quay (the twins Stephen and Timothy Quay).

The American composer, musician and filmmaker Alexis Gideon was born in New York in 1980 and studied there, as well as at the Wesleyan University, Connecticut. He has appeared at several venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Times Zone Festival, Bari; Centre d’Art Bastille, Grenoble and the New Museum, New York.

VIDEO MUSICS III: Floating Oceans was directed by Alexis Gideon and produced in collaboration with Cynthia Star (the animator behind Coraline), Jacob Rubin, Melody Owen, Jamin London Tinsel, and others. It was recorded in southern France, New York and Portland, USA. The film utilises stop-motion technique and line-drawing animation, along with Super 8 material transferred to HD video (38 min).

Flann O’Brien (1911-1966)
Lord Dunseny (1878-1957)
John William Dunne (1875-1949)

Alexis Gideon webpage

Read an interview with Alexis Gideon by New Museum. Did We Dream This Together?

Curator: Lena Essling