Review of events I've been to this week in Sonica 2012, Glasgow
The inaugural Sonica festival is running in Glasgow from 8th-18th of November across various venues, produced by Cryptic. Subtitled "sonic art for the visually minded" it tries to provide an opportunity to showcase work from Glasgow and across the world which doesn't normally fit easily onto a gallery wall. Now, I have always had a leaning towards music which resembles vacuum cleaners in dust cans falling down a lift shaft, so I was hoping to find lots to intrigue and entertain me in Sonica.
The programme is imaginative and varied. Some of it is aimed specifically at children (such as Sonic Dreams). Others have a seemingly childish simplicity that would appeal to anyone, such as Kathy Hinde's kinetic sculpture, Piano Migrations, in the foyer of the Scottish Music Centre. It is a hypnotic sight as wee birds projected onto the strings of an up-ended piano cause motors to twitch and pluck the strings as the birds tweet about its workings, like a John Cage work brought to life.
Along the corridor from it is another outing for Aidan Moffat and FOUND's "sound installation" #UNRAVEL, more stripped down than when I last saw it at Glasgow International 2012, but the idea is the same. You pick singles from someone's collection and unpick the story of their life from the monologues they trigger off. With the headphones on this time, rather than standing back in awe at the mechanical instruments as I did last time, I was more able to take in the stories being told.
Remember Me by Claudia Molitor is being performed in the lovely setting of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed Scotland Street School Museum. We are gathered outside the room and lead in to find her dressed like one of the Greek priestesses who light the Olympic flame watching a projected film to the sounds of water falling and discordant strings. Then we are taken next door and about 20 of us watched her performance around an old white writing desk. She talks of the imagined phone call between the female operatic heroines Dido and Eurydice and "their good friend Cinderella" whilst taking objects from the drawers and projecting films onto it and herself. It made me think back to the fun I had as a child rummaging in the jam-packed drawers of my granny's old "bureau" which was full of the most random stuff. We were dismissed one by one at the end by words whispered privately in our ear by the elfin performer. "Remember me?", I think I will. Bonkers, but good bonkers. I headed over to the Tramway hoping for more of the same.
I made a quick dash over to the Tramway to see Bluebeard, again based upon opera, Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle, but described as "state of the art opera for the digital age", produced and performed by the "33 1/3 collective", a collaboration of Dutch artists. The story of Bartok's opera has Bluebeard's new wife insisting he opens the seven castle doors, revealing various dark secrets. In this staging bizarre and spectacular images are projected onto a large cube in the centre of a darkened hall whilst music and singing/ chanting rings out. Some images and sounds are startling, like the coins spinning onto the floor as the treasure room is opened, whilst in others the artists come onstage to interact with them, such as apparently sweeping corpses onto a stretcher. I have never seen anything like this before. Absolutely stunning, although the visuals overwhelmed the music a bit.
Between shows at the Tramway I played with Tim Cooper's Dora, a computer programme set up in the foyer where your typed in thoughts are translated into electronic music, of sorts.
|Tales of Magical Realism - Part 2 (and my allocated number)|
Overall Sonica was full to bursting with the type of music, performance and sonic arts that I absolutely love. The reduced prices for advanced booking and 3 for 2 offers meant I was able to see loads of stuff in the festival and I hope to find it returning next year.