DESCENDED

Exploring the supernatural legacy of Lafcadio Hearn through sound, light, and story

Part chamber music, part media art, part film and theater, this shape-shifting work owns as many haunting identities as its host-muse, Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904). Hearn’s Great-Great-Grand Niece, Jean Laurenz, and multi-media sound artist Maria Finkelmeier explore the turbulent undertones and uncanny narratives of his celebrated 19th century macabre stories. He awakened the magnetic pull of storytelling in his contributions to American journalism, his interpretation of Japanese ghost stories, and his documentation of underrepresented American cultures and endangered spirit worlds. Through this multi-layered work, audiences will maliate their own sensory entrance into life’s deepest questions; questions whose fibers weave into every ghost story, spiritual mantra, and subliminal experience - questions whose answers lie just beyond the grasp of cognition, discoverable only through a transformative portal beyond human touch.

DESCENDED connects Hearn’s fantasies, internal demons, and topical inquiries with our contemporary understanding of fear. This is accomplished using original composition, digital media, projection art, film, and narrative. The presentation of the work is accessed through an adaptable ‘a la carte menu’. These offerings include live and remote performance, film screening, storytelling, installation, and Q&A with the artists and scholarly guests. One presenter may choose a live performance followed by an artist Q&A, while another may curate a week-long multi-tiered event. 

Through DESCENDED, audiences are summoned to address “the faint blind stirrings that make one afraid, - deliciously afraid.”-Lafcadio Hearn

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A Shapeshifting Art Piece with Multiple Entry Points 

DESCENDED

This 27 minute film is an abstract ghost story inspired by the life and work of Lafcadio Hearn, an overlooked 19th century writer and cultural preservationist. Hearn’s examinations of race, marginalized spiritual communities, and the beautiful strangeness of humankind remain resonant today, 150 years later. Riddled with Hearn references, the film weaves thematic materials, quotes, and metamorphic vignettes from his haunted life and morbid imagination. It highlights his fascination with Buddhist inflected eastern ghost stories and symbols. Maria Finkelmeier’s music forms a narrative engine as the artists uncover Hearn’s philosophies on eternal memory, infinite wisdom, and supernatural interference. Jean Laurenz, a director, producer, musician, and Hearn descendant, plays the journeyer and encounters what could be her heritage, her past, her karma, or her infinity.

LAFCADIO HEARN
Hearn (1850-1904) was an eclectic writer and nomad who never found his grounding in a permanent home or literary genre. He wrote about racial inequities and police brutality, while also documenting Voodoo folk songs, Japanese ghost stories, and global folk traditions. His documentation of underrepresented American and global cultures along with their endangered spirit worlds make him a preservationist worth remembering. In his day, Hearn stood with literary giants like Poe, Stevenson and Whitman, but his name only remains prominent in small pockets outside of Japan. Traumatized in boyhood, Hearn blends his unique, fear-inspired perspective into metaphysical literature, uniting cognitive existence with paranormal spaces. He looked beyond the fleeting facade of human emotion and into the depths of its phantom grip.

Hearn’s Great-Great-Grand Niece, Jean Laurenz, Maria Finkelmeier, and Four/Ten Media, explore the turbulent undertones and uncanny narratives of Hearn's celebrated 19th century macabre stories. The film pulls inspiration from all corners of Lafcadio Hearn's writings, but there are 5 particular pieces which galvanized its narrative content and musical compositions. These pieces are, "A Drop of Dew, Of Moon-Desire, Nightmare-Touch, Mujina, and At Hakata".

THE FILM
 

AWARDS and FILM FESTIVAL selections (as of 7/26/2021)

International Music Video Awards, 2021
AWARD: Best Musical Film, February edition                                                                                     

Music Video Underground, International Music Video Competition, 2021
AWARD: Best Short Film, February edition  

                                                                          

Toronto Film Channel Awards, 2021
AWARD: Best Art Film, monthly

AWARD: Best Directing of the month 

Toronto International Women Film Festival, Award Winner, 2021
AWARD: Best Female Composer, February Edition    

                                              

International Short Film Awards, 2021
AWARD: Best Experimental Music Video  

Rome Music Video Awards, 2021

AWARD: Best Musical Film (Feature)

High Tatras Film & Video Festival, 2021 

AWARD: Best Musical Film Short

Wisconsin Film Festival, 2021 

Macabre Faire Film Festival, 2021 

London Music Video Festival, 2021

Hollywood International Golden Age Festival, 2021 

Kosice International Film Festival, 2021 

Music Video Awards, 2021                                                                                 

Executive Producer: Jean Laurenz
Co-Director:Jean Laurenz
Co-Director: Four/Ten Media
Co-Music Director/Composer: Maria Finkelmeier
Co-Music Director/Lead Actress: Jean Laurenz
Wardrobe, Set Design, Assistant Director: Danie Harris
Spoken Word: Buzz Kemper
THE ALBUM
THE MULTIMEDIA PERFORMANCE PIECE

“I have pledged me to the worship of the Odd, the Queer, the Strange, the Exotic, the Monstrous….Enormous and lurid facts are certainly worthy of more artistic study than they generally receive.” 

-Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904)

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RELEASE DATE: September 24, 2021 by Bright Shiny Things

Produced by: Maria Finkelmeier, Jean Laurenz, and Louis Lovett

Music by: Maria Finkelmeier

Musicians: Jean Laurenz (trumpet, voice), Maria Finkelmeier (marimba, percussion, melodica, toy piano, electronics), Greg Jukes (drums, percussion, accordion)

Spoken Word: Buzz Kemper

Recorded and Mixed by: John Escobar

Mastered by: Jonathan Wyner
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