Words by Frankii Phoenix
Now that Syndrome phase 3 has begun, we look back at the incredible on-off event in the University of Liverpool’s iconic redbrick Victoria building, which fused music and visuals to create true symbiosis.
When I arrived at the lecture room of the Victoria building, the Hive Collective’s Engineering Joy #3 was playing. Conversely to the first in the series of Engineering Joy that I had experienced before which was primarily audio and lighting, this was an intensely visual experience.
Viewers were presented with a screen filled with tessellating kaleidoscopic images that jazzed in strict and orderly sequences. The background colour was stark white and the image being spliced and tossed about was not easily identifiable, yet appeared to be very like the soft lining of the human gut. It was a challenging visual display and not necessarily comfortable to watch, but in spite of that, it was very difficult to tear your eyes from the screen; an Orwellian atmosphere of rapt attention captivated the lecture theatre.
Accompanying the visuals was a steady drone that increased gradually in pitch which gave a feeling of being elevated, and added to the intensity of the piece, giving a sense of, for lack of a more finite description, ascending sensation.
Following this piece was The Aleph’s Good Eater; live music performance played alongside Craig Sinclair’s beautiful short film that evoked a nostalgic journey through memories and loved items from childhood. The rhythms of the performance pulled your attention to and from the story within the film and the engrossing operation of the musical performance. Sometimes your focus was very much with the musicians as they transitioned through meticulous sections of programmed electronica as well as playing live instruments, skilfully switching between various pedals and other such apparatus to create unique improvisations.
The emotive power of the film and the minimal use of dialogue really drew you into the dream-like narrative with stunning imagery, creating a sense of non-linear timelessness. The synchronicity of the moving image and brilliant music combined in a way that brought to the conscious fore the important relationship between what we see and hear together, and how they interact to generate emotion, meaning and experience. It left me wondering if either would have been so potent on their own?
After a short interval the night concluded with the Immix ensemble and visuals from Sam Wiehl. Again there was an intelligent symbiosis between the scoring of the music and the journey the visuals took you on, creating an invisible fusion that mesmerised the audience.
The visuals were meticulous and precise, moving through a mix of computer generated animations and ‘real/natural’ textures and objects. Industrial man-made materials were magnified many times, highlighting the detail of their structures which were almost perfect geometric matrixes, yet still had an organic quality to them. Minute details of woven commercial fabrics that still had whisps of lint amidst the tight weaves were juxtaposed with seamless computer generated geometric 3D shapes with hyper-real finishes to them.
The music of the Immix ensemble brought a strong yet understated presence that wove an alchemic thread in ‘the spaces between’, leading you through the piece as creative skill and artistic vision realised itself in a spellbinding atmosphere.