Waves of Ivory is the score to the experimental horror short Ivory Wave. The film and score intentionally unsettle audiences while asking them to empathize with sudden tragedy. Much of Waves of Ivory appears to be dreamlike–suspended somewhere just outside the bounds of reality. The composer asks the listener to surrender themselves to the immersive story. The slight disorientation that is presented mirrors how one might feel when in a drug-induced state. Brilliantly, the film and score surrender to this disorientation as the lead loses himself to grief and substance abuse.
Shot on 35mm film with an array of color palettes that shift from dreamy and pulsing to a more limited grayscale, director James Quinn is able to maintain an eerily soft quality throughout the film. This contrast reflects the story presented, giving a sympathetic edge to the horrors revealed to the viewer. Though disturbing and uncomfortable at times, the film is profound and sympathetic. How are people able to function and process the horrors of this world without “help?” How do our ethics bend to accommodate for unbearable pain and can we be more understanding of the stresses that push people to seek out the things that can theoretically “help?” Waves of Ivory asks the audience to consider these weighted questions while simultaneously submerging themselves in a narrative that defies life itself.
The piece is scored for string quartet and bespoke modular electronics, created by composer Leanna Primiani.