Overwhelming Majority is an experimental documentary short dealing with issues of loneliness, alienation, and social anxiety. A young woman recounts a suicide attempt, muses on the nature of connectedness, and ultimately yearns for understanding.
Joseph Irvin is an Ohio native who studied music composition under Marc Ainger at The Ohio State University and under Jane Rigler at University of Colorado Colorado Springs. He has released a folk music album, given or performed in many concerts of acoustic and electroacoustic music, and scored several films. In the past few years he has begun composing images as well as music–Overwhelming Majority is his newest work. A photographer on occasion, he recently completed his first exhibition, in his current city of Colorado Springs.
I’m a composer, not a filmmaker. At least that’s what I keep saying, and the conceit of this work is that it is Music, not just in what we hear, but what we see, how we look. Rather than a film, this is a composition using images and editing as much as it uses spoken and pitched sound.
Overwhelming Majority was inspired by a much shorter piece I made a year ago which dealt with my own experiences and emotions being alone in a crowd. Winning a grant from my university, I expanded the theme and sought out other people and their perspectives on isolation, alienation, and social anxiety. What came out of it is a very personal project, and while the Voice that speaks didn’t originate from my mouth, it says everything I’ve wanted to say and more: thoughts I haven’t had the courage to communicate myself. When we can’t speak, there are alternative means of crying out. I didn’t allow anyone to collaborate with me; not only to keep it personal, but also in a symbolic act of shouldering the weight that so many people needlessly carry alone.
Starting with a cinema vérité style and inspired primarily by the work of Chris Marker and William Klein, I approached a lot of the work in the aesthetic of street photography, even in the use of motion picture cameras. I had no idea of what to make, only those words again: alienation, isolation, social anxiety. I spent months going to places I didn’t frequent, spent much time in crowded situations with people I didn’t know, and spent hours talking with people about subjects I’d rather not have discussed. In editing, the Voice came first, after which I discovered a rhythm to the way the images worked together. Images and shots are recapitulated here and there, as returning motifs. The score is performed on synthesizer by myself and helps unify the three movements of the images into a cohesive whole.
I’m still surprised with what Overwhelming Majority became. I hope it will be an intense and intensely moving experience, and that you emerge more mindful of the world as well as the people in it.
Reach out to someone.