Award-winning filmmaker and visual artist Wu Tsang and the collective Moved by the Motion embark upon a feature-length, silent-film telling of Herman Melville’s great American novel. The film includes original music composed by Caroline Shaw and Andrew Yee with Asma Maroof, performed live by the New Century Chamber Orchestra.
This adaptation, written by Sophia Al-Maria and directed by Tsang, follows the white whale above and below the surface of the water, developing a visual cosmology that resists the exploration and exploitation of the earth under imperial colonialism. The narrative is interwoven with extracts by the Sub-Sub-Librarian, and tackles the novel’s subterranean currents, encountering the resistance of the ship’s hydrarchy, or organizational structure, and collectives of “mariners, renegades, and castaways,” as described by historian C.L.R. James.
The staging of this adaptation by Moved by the Motion pairs the classic story of the whaler’s “floating factory” with the beginnings of the film industry in silent film. The film was shot entirely on a sound-stage combining silent-era filmmaking techniques with a virtual reality game engine projecting surreal ocean environments.
Presented in partnership with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art