1993, 35mm Slides, Colour & BW. 26 mins 24 sec.
2015-6 4k Digital Reconstruction (in progress)
"The Horla" by Peter Morse, Robert Frith and Glenn Rogers
"The Horla" is a re-imagining of the classic horror story by Guy de Maupassant (1887) as a metaphor for madness and disease - specifically the representations of syphilis and AIDS in the C19th and C20th.
It was made in 1993, with a minimal budget and an immense amount of work, for the ArtRage Festival in Perth, Western Australia, concurrent with the Festival of Perth.
The technology was primitive by todays standards - 9 slide projectors were computer controlled using a Genesis AV system on an IBM XT 386 computer, output to a 4-track reel-to-reel tape deck, playing 2-channel audio, a clock track and a timing track for the projectors. This meant that we achieved something like 35mm projection definition on a ~6m x 3m rear-projection screen, with stereo sound.
Several hundred slides were used across 9 carousels, attaining maximum animation speeds of 2 frames per second. Images were composited on top of each other using analogue masking techniques. It is a completely different process to contemporary digital imaging as everything was essentially analogue and photographic.
The project evolved from a long-term interest of Peter Morse and Glenn Rogers in de Maupassant's story. Peter Morse wrote first drafts of the script and mis en scene, exploring connections between de Maupassant's depiction of madness, contemporaneous accounts of syphilitic dementia and the emergent public discourse on AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s..
Robert Frith became involved as principal photographer and, crucially, managed to arrange technology sponsorship through his industry contacts. As the project developed, all three worked in a close partnership in developing the visual look and feel of the production, as well as the narrative and musical direction.
The audio was composed by Glenn Rogers on an Atari computer and output to midi for mixing and recording, featuring the voices of Andrew Foot, Peta Gourlay and Elle Deslandes. Deborah Robertson and Peter Morse did the narration. The audio in itself was a huge exercise and we were very fortunate to work with professional singers and Alistair Dudfield the audio producer.
The Horla was exhibited to acclaim at ArtRage and the Festival of Perth in 1993 (at PICA - the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art) and at Experimenta '94 in Melbourne.