Ryoichi Kurokawa, Herman Kolgen, Novi_Sad and the rise of Digital Performance Art

unfold by Ryoichi Kurokawa, at FACT, 2016. Photo by Brian Slater

unfold by Ryoichi Kurokawa, at FACT, 2016. Photo by Brian Slater

With a summer of immersive digital performance art under her belt, Getintothis’ Sinead Nunes looks ahead to Novi_Sad at The Lowry later this month.

We’ll admit to having been somewhat of a philistine when it comes to this sort of thing. Until recently encounters with experimental music-meets-visuals were limited to quite straight-forward formats, with Manchester’s Video Jam one of the leading lights.

That’s not to say the artists encountered were uninspiring; in enhancing our awareness of the possibilities of this art-form, we’ve been lucky enough to experience some truly great live performances over the summer to expand our horizons.

Back in June, to accompany his immersive, multi-sensory audio-visual installation unfold at Liverpool’s FACT,  Ryoichi Kurokawa gave a rare performance of his live art piece syn_ at Liverpool Philharmonic’s then-new-ish Music Room.

An explosion of strobing, complex graphic visuals combined with carefully orchestrated crackling, abstract melodies and thumping bass to create an immersive audio-visual symphony, assaulting every sense through a phenomenon known as synaesthesia – the correspondence of sound and perception – in an all-enveloping experience.

Then, just over a fortnight ago, internationally acclaimed multi-displicinary media artist Herman Kolgen became the first to take to the stage in The Lowry’s new programme of live digital performance evenings. Described as an “audiocinetic sculptor”, Kolgen creates live installations, mixing video with evolving sculptures of sound. Feeling spoiled by our experiences of Kurokawa, we didn’t know what to expect, but Kolgen did not disappoint.

Presented first was Seismik, a real-time multi-sensory leap into the unknown for which the artist connects with live geological data, tapping into seismic waves, frictional resistance and tremor-related phenomena to render the invisible visible; creating dramatic visual motifs, such as vertical through lines to evoke current seismic activity, disrupting and impacting the performance with a sense of real urgency.

Then, Aftershock; a piece inspired by the consequences of several brutal topological shocks. Herman’s black and white three-dimensional, cinematic visuals simulate the aftermath of a disaster, as multi-layered audio tracks mixed live create an all-encompassing sense of catastrophe.

Speaking afterwards, Kolgen demonstrated to the audience how he uses research and science in his work, investigating the most dynamic data to feed into each performance right up until the start of the show, positioning his work at the forefront of media art.

Like The Music Room, The Lowry’s new Digital Performance Programme seeks to attract a new audience, more inclined to explore experimental programming, but perhaps unused to this sort of show – a perfect starting point if you’re looking for your first A/V experience!

Liverpool’s Philharmonic Music Room is about to celebrate its first birthday and it has quickly become an established favourite on the Liverpool scene

Next up at The Lowry is audio artist and noise musician Novi_Sad, with a back-to-back set featuring International Internal Catastrophes, which captures sonic phenomena from Iceland and NYC to create an immersive, extreme experience through two very different landscapes – one familiar, and one unknown.

His second work Sirens is inspired by the mythological Greek beings who would lure sailors ashore to danger, with a series of five beautiful sound and visual compositions intended as a metaphor for market fervour leading to economic collapse. Coincidentally, the artist worked in collaboration with the acclaimed and aforementioned Ryoichi Kurokawa, who generated the visuals for Sirens.

Novi_Sad‘s Sirens and International Internal Catastrophes takes place at The Lowry on Monday October 31. More details are available here.