One rainy night this past September, filmmaker Weston Currie and musician Liz Harris bka Grouper posted up in a vacant building inside an industrial complex in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to premiere Currie’s feature-length anthology, The Perception of Moving Targets. Harris was as much a spectator as she was a participator. Set up off to the side of a large, freestanding screen to live-score the film, she unassumingly played cued bursts of ambient guitar and looped sound samples, lacing each with her sweetly plangent voice. “Initially, I was going to be hidden behind a curtain,” she explains, her downplayed station meant to legitimize her contribution to the project without distracting from it. TPOMT is comprised of a series of four, tangentially linked dark, short films, which play out like an ambling dream sequence—its tacit dread built as much on Currie’s uncanny lens as it is on Harris’ moody drone.
Currie and Harris first struck up a creative correspondence after a friend played Currie Grouper’s 2008 LP, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. “I was like, Who is this person? Where does she live?” Currie says, recalling his initial excitement. “I’m always looking for people to collaborate with, and Liz’s music was already incredibly cinematic.” But it wasn’t until Currie fortuitously moved to Portland, Oregon, Harris’ home base, that the two began to work together, occasionally collaborating on music videos and short films. The exchange was fruitful, and eventually Currie approached Harris about doing a larger project based on her 2011 album AIA. “When I was a kid, and I would think about one day being a movie maker, I couldn’t help but picture how the music I’d listen to would drive a film,” explains Currie. “Liz really brought that back for me—especially with AIA—I was listening to it and making 100 movies in my head. The process [of making this film] was subtracting a few of those images.”
For Harris, working on AIA was “magical and synchronous” to Currie’s process for the film. “[With AIA] I had all these recordings that I hadn’t done anything with, and I knew that there was some way that they went together, but I wasn’t sure how,” she says. “So every day, I’d listen to those recordings to figure out what worked as it was and what stuff I wanted to rerecord.” The resulting album is two separate records, released under the shared title, AIA. “The idea of having two releases that were actually one and the same—like there’s an intangible third album in between—Weston didn’t know this necessarily, but a lot of his film is about this hallway that connects people’s interior spaces to each other,” Harris explains. “It was one of those moments of synchronicity.”