UTS Design Showcase + The Now Now - Tuesday 19th September
I knock off work a little early and walk from Alexandria to the HPG Festival Hub. I never would have thought of Alexandria being a walkable suburb, but things are changing fast round these parts. First up this evening is the UTS Design Showcase.
When I get to hub I get the lay of the land. I meet Deborah Cameron who tells me about the work that her animation students have been doing. Working in teams of two the 115 students in first year animation have animated and edited together a non-narrative short using a mix of stop motion under camera and hybrid animation techniques – with great local music they made or sourced from friends.
They’ve set up a projector in a multilayered screen environment where I sit back in old cinema chairs and enjoy a psychedelic feast for the eyes. Whales swim across the screen shifting and morphing animation styles, rainbow teardrops explode and divide in on themselves, a face turns itself inside out and the skull dances away into the distance. It's hard to imagine that this was made by pairs of two students take working in isolation. It all comes together so seamlessly. And these are young people fresh from school with no animation experience.
There are light installations too. Multi-coloured clouds, a special perception-warping mirror room, shadow play, and what looked like an experiment in hybrid wayfinding. Cool stuff.
On the way to Now Now at 107 Projects, I pass the awesome project We Live Here in Waterloo, with the public housing lit up by interior coloured lights that reflect the moods of the soon-to-be dispossessed residents. I'm struck by how those students might one day do big things, of the power of creativity and light to make the invisible visible, to effect social change.
I get to 107 and say hi to Jess Cook. I grab myself a beer and head on in to the performance space.
Laurence Pike kicks things off on the drums. It’s a hypnotic percussive masterpiece, repetitive without ever actually repeating. Evolving, undulating and building, then collapsing in on itself like a campfire. The self-discipline of never surrendering to the groove and constantly reinventing, exploring new directions, building on the rhythmic foundations he's made is impressive. Washing cymbals, prayer chimes, hollow toms; it's a spiritual experience. At times you get the sense that you hear the groove coming before he does, but when you see him realise it happening he switches it up. He modulates the rhythms around pulsing synth samples evolving them into new relationships. Towards the end of the set things get dark and a little bit Lynch-y.
Next up is cellist Judith Hamann in her last gig before she's back to being homeless in LA.
She's playing every part of a cello that doesn't want to be played, squeaking in protest. Her head is down as she goes on to make the cello moan. More improbable sounds, this time from above the bridge, throbbing dissonance, playing harmonics to the frequency of discord and tritone binaural beats, the bow not gliding but scraping the strings like a paring knife. She punctuates her piece with slaps of the bow across the strings like glottal stops. And then a pure note, or rather two notes in unison, trembling with subtle pitch phasing. It's potent and plaintive. A victim to the sonic prison of dissonance that she is building around it. And now it's chanting like a Tuvan throat singer. Or a didgeridoo. I've never heard a cello player so versatile and inventive. Without an amp she is somehow making her cello feedback. Shuddering and plaintive harmonics. Light scraping bows redeeming nothing from the strings but overtones and white noise punctuated by pizzicato.
Last up is Jonathan Lockhart replacing some musos who couldn’t make it. From his laptop comes a splutter of hectic cable buzz syncopated in progressive patterns. Noise and hum. Flashing lights. Like all the old modem bleep noises played through a beat masher at once.
It’s amazing but a little hectic. I decide to duck out and call it a night.
[From hectic to hectic, be back tomorrow for Rebecca's slide into Sarah Kane's Cleansed]
Written by Max Rapley