Thursday 12 March
Last night saw the launch of an ambitious two night series of audio-visual screenings at the BFI Southbank. The regular Sonic Cinema night was presented in partnership with Montreal-based Elektra, Mutek and Digital Québec who have come together to showcase some of the most forward thinking audio-visual work.
The first of the two night programme featured work from 4 artists. The first half of the evening was presented as two screenings.
Dominique T Skoltz
“y20 navigates troubled waters, between suffocation and exaltation, between consummation and relinquishment, between yes and no, from both under the skin and on it’s surface. This work allows us to see a love on the verge of drifting, a multimorphic cell that is scattered in multiple scenes. Each of these scenes pummels emotional node, which are made and unmade by daily abrasions, observing the crossed polarities from which relentless loves are composed.”
This was a good intro to proceedings. A very nicely put together piece of work. A series of 8 short videos featuring a man and woman filmed underwater in super slo-mo, then composited with different backgrounds. Each scene having a slightly different twist to it. This style of underwater slow motion is not new – one of the first to use this style was Chris Cunningham back in 200 with his piece, Flex. For me, there was not enough variation between the different scenes as there could be, i would like to see this style composited with other forms of animation and effects to give it another dimension – that being said, this was superbly shot and edited. The final sequence of the two actors standing face to face in the tank whilst the water emptied out created some beautiful effects with the reflections and was a perfect way to end.
“The A/V composition Tempêtes is inspired by the late work of painter Joseph Mallord William Turner. It is presented as a journey through a series of chaotic panoramas undergoing continuous transformation. Tempêtes blends visual synthesis of particle clouds with an electro-acoustic composition created in collaboration with cellist Soizic Lebrat.”
This piece was great, very easy on the eye. Plenty of free flowing animation and a mix of quite unique visual styles. Created with a mixture of After Effects and plugins it created a journey through some pulsating landscapes and panoramas. The scene pictured above featuring a sort of organic structure, continually expanding and pulsing inside itself creating more iterations was the highlight.
Part two of the evening… and time to warm up the extra speaker stacks on either side of the stage specially installed for the evenings live performances.
Matthew Biederman & 4X
“Matthew Biederman and 4X (Alan Thibault) dive deep into the physicality of the sound and image perception in their latest project. Physical is a follow up to their 2006 collaboration, PULSE. The title of the work refers to the deep physicality of the perception of sound and image and explores the liminal edges of perception where the division of the senses begins to dissolve. By using techniques which overload the eye and ear, the work asks the question of where perception actually occurs – in one’s head, or eyes, or ears – or quite likely, it is a more complex relationship than that.”
This performance was a very bright and intense piece of work. A super bright kaleidoscopic tunnel pulsating through every hue imaginable – created with finely detailed diagonal lines running through it all. A kind of science experiment for the eyes. These guys have clearly done their homework on how to manipulate straight forward vision. The soundtrack, a banging techno style was a good accompaniment but not quite to everyone’s tastes – a few people were spotted leaving during this piece. Obviously it was not the quiet night out at the cinema that they were expecting. But that bears no reflection on the quality of the work, just the perception of how to view this type of work. As with all audio-visual work – is it best to sit and watch, or stand up and dance? For this particular piece i would probably opt for the latter.
Seismik + Aftershock
“Herman Kolgen presents Seismik, a dazzling, tension charged performance that taps into seismic waves, frictional resistance and the Earth’s tremor-related phenomena in real-time. True to Kolgen’s preoccupations and radiographic approach, he again renders the invisible visible: he has developed software that picks up on the Earth’s magentic fields and seismic activity, in turn generating abstracted sounds and dramatic visual motifs.”
The headline performance of the night was from world renowned audio-visual artist Herman Kolgen. Having previously reviewed a performance for Alpha-Ville it was interesting to see more of his work. This new work featured some intriguing looking aerials and electronic equipment around the stage, which were actually taking a live feed of data from the Earth’s core itself. The equipment detecting vibrations from sedimentary friction and magnetic waves which was in turn generating abstracted soundscapes, live. Alongside this, visually the data was represented in different styles and visual motifs. The use of geology in this way was very cool, taking the meaning of the word ‘deep’ to a whole new level.
As with his previous show, it was hard to tell exactly how much of the performance is controlled live and how much is purely generated. It doesn’t really matter – a very accomplished, interesting and engaging performance from one of the most celebrated audio-visual artists in the world today.
A fantastic evening and particularly nice to witness it in such a great venue – especially with the additional soundsystem. These sort of audio-visual events have traditionally appealed to a very niche crowd of people and often seen in much smaller and underground venues. It’s a bold and exciting move from the BFI to get behind this newest of art forms and to give it the platform it deserves.
The second and final part of the programme is on tonight (13th March) and tickets are still available from the BFI site.