Saturday, the MDC Live Arts series will present the live documentary "The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller." It's a live doc because director Sam Green will live narrate the presentation while indie-rock band Yo La Tengo will lend its musical notes to the score.
Fuller was an architect and speaker best known for his geodesic domes found all over the globe -- both his direct designs and those inspired by him. Even monkey domes in playgrounds harken from Fuller's basic concept: The most efficient use of building materials is in dome form.
Green came across Fuller's store while doing another live documentary, "Utopia in Four Movements." Although Fuller is most widely known for his architecture, it's the philosophy behind it that struck a chord with Green, not only in its message but in the way Fuller would almost perform his lectures on design, sustainability and scarcity.
Q: What is a “live documentary”?
A: Five years ago I kind of happened onto this form of doing a film live -- of narrating in person and having a band do a live soundtrack. I always think about -- you go to church in like a huge building. They’re using architecture to make the message meaningful. And that's the same thing with film. Those old movie palaces made the film a big deal.
Q: So form seems to be really important to you. Form was also really important to Buckminster Fuller. Is there some connection you draw between your form and his form?
A: Fuller was many different things, but in some ways what he was best at and made the biggest impact through was as a performer -- in his case as a speaker. He would do these legendary talks that were five hours long or sometimes even 10 hours long. He would start speaking at a university and speak all night. And then the 12 people who were left with him in the morning, they would all go out to breakfast. So he was an incredible speaker and there was something about the live form that really inspired him. And so in some ways this is an echo of that.
Q: What would he talk about?
A: From the 1930s until the 1980s basically saying the same thing over and over again. This idea [that] we have all the resources we need for everybody in the planet to have a very comfortable life. We just don't distribute them well; we don't use them in a wise way. We’re living in an era of belt-tightening and austerity and accepting lower standards of living and in a way he’s saying “no way.” We can have high ambitions, we can take care of people in marvelous ways, it's just being smart about it and creative.
Q: How does that manifest in these geodesic domes that, for some people, are the only thing they know of Fuller?
A: Many, many people and myself before I started this project know him as "the dome guy." The thing about a dome is that it really is the most efficient way there is to enclose space, from an engineering perspective. We would be using a fraction of the resources. The thing is, and many people have told me [this], domes are terrible to live in. Where do you put a refrigerator in a dome? I don’t want to live in one. But the idea behind it, this idea of radical efficiency, is a cool idea we could use more of.
Q: One thing you’ve done in other places is to try and localize the performance to wherever you’re going. What are some of the things you’ve learned about Fuller’s connections to South Florida?
A: In South Florida there is a dome at the Seaquarium that’s a kind of Fuller-designed dome. Also a couple of years ago in the Design District they mounted one of Fuller's fly’s-eye domes. The great thing about Fuller is that he did things everywhere.
IF YOU GO
What: Sam Green and Yo La Tengo in “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller”
When: 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
Info: $30, $10 for MDC students, at 305-237-3010, or mdclivearts.org.