Corduroy Roads
A live performance collaboration reflecting on the civil war, with guitarist William Tyler and theater director Akiva Fox. Corduroy Roads was commissioned by Duke Performances.

This project started with two rare books of albumen prints of the civil war in the Rubenstein Archives at Duke University, but quickly spread to other material. William and I were interested from the first in exploring (and dissolving) the boundary between still and moving images, after the fashion of Chris Marker and Norman McLaren. With the encouragement of my collaborators I made a series of wet plate collodion photographs using a mixture of period and modern techniques, and combined these with high-speed video, pixilation, ombro cinema, and other pictorial and cinematic oddities.

The piece premiered at 305 S. Dillard Street in Durham on November 20th, 2014, and ran for four days, not entirely without notice .

The scope of the project was considerable (an hour for two screens, a year or thereabouts in the oven), and I had more help than I can conveniently report in this space. I want to especially thank Aaron Greenwald, Josh Gibson, Guo-Juin Hong, and Mikel Barton for their efforts and support.

Without the generous support of the Council for the Arts at Duke University, I would not have been able to buy the poisons, intoxicants, corrosives, and explosives which figured so heavily in the making of this work. I am also indebted to Freewater Productions, who provided additional camera, lighting, and grip equipment, and to Freewater student members King Lu and Elaine Pak, who helped me with various shoots and tests.

Steve Milligan