There's still time to see one of my favorite movies from Tallgrass
The virtual Tallgrass Film Festival has been extended until Sunday, so you’ve still got plenty of time to see one of my favorite movies from the festival.
It’s director Lisa Rovner’s documentary Sisters With Transistors, about a handful of women who were, and are, pioneers in the world of electronic music-- women who not only had no guide for what they were doing as women in the world of science and technology, but who were creating an art form that simply didn’t exist.
The movie is narrated by Laurie Anderson, herself an electronic music pioneer, and it uses a ton of archival footage and audio to tell us about these women and their work, from the very beginning when people were simply figuring out how to make certain sounds using waves and circuits, on through the familiar synthesized music we know today. And because of all the footage and recordings, we get to see and hear many of these women talk, themselves, about what they’re doing.
And this is how the movie really elevates: Of course it’s important that these women be recognized for what they did-- the real trailblazers are the people who do something when no framework exists for them to do it, and it’s depressingly unsurprising that so many of these people are women, for whom there’s not only no framework, but any structure that does exist is often actively working to keep them out. But Rovner also lets us learn about them as artists, and we get to experience their wildly creative minds as they draw ideas and inspiration from everything the world has to offer, and often simply from their own extraordinary imaginations. We hear about the different sounds and souls of cityscapes, about the music of dying circuitry, about the vibrations of the cosmos. We see the delight on their faces as they talk about their ideas and their music, and it’s a wondrous look into the minds of artists who are assuming no pretensions, because there are none to be had. They are creating all of this as they go. They are literally forming a new universe.