Onstage 14 months ago, Trisha Brown's "Set and Reset" triumphed as a multimedia collaboration with artist Robert Rauschenberg and composer Laurie Anderson. However, James Byrne's video version, to be seen tonight at 8 in the Mark Goodson screening room of the American Film Institute, is a myopic misrepresentation.
Brown originally placed her dancers in the narrow space underneath two hanging Rauschenberg pyramids attached to a central cube. These geometric forms, and the motion pictures projected onto them, created a striking counterpoint to the fluid dance movement.
No trace of the set units survives in Byrne's video of "Set and Reset," leaving the dancing stripped of its spatial context. Byrne wants to provide a dancer's-eye view of the stage action. His camera swoops among the cast members, catching bits of the dance at close range, but he annihilates the work's identity and coherence.
Included in the same screening program tonight is a superior video treatment of Brown: Peter Campus' "Watermotor for Dancer and Camera," a poetic superimposition of two slow-motion views of her dancing--part of a PBS show entitled "Solos, Duets and Pizzas."