Sonic Acts started in darkness

This year’s Sonic Acts festival’s interventions have the power of enlightening our minds, shaping and changing the image of the shadows we thought we knew we were casting on earth, filling the environment we inhabit and inside which we move. Sonic Acts at W139 On the occasion of the warm-up event on Wednesday 25th at the gallery W139, the audience was welcomed in a dark empty space, dimly lighted up by small flames. These feeble fires were produced by flaming pipes connected to gas tanks, and held by four members of DNK Ensemble. Wearing white overalls, they were positioned in different corners of the space, as if waiting to begin to perform a ritual. Anthony McCall The event aimed at bringing in an indoor space an Anthony McCall’s land art performance that took place in 1972, at that time conceived as the enactment of a score of fires in an open field, put into action using torches to light up piles of flammable material. DNK Ensemble’s performance At 10pm the first performer started executing the score he had in front of him, flaming his pipe. After him, each of the executors illuminated, and literally warmed up, the room with their flames, casting on the walls vibrating shadows of the audience. The four performers, namely A, B, C, and D on the scores, played a rhythmical modulation of light in space. The shadows in fact changed according to the wanderings of the audience, which kept on moving around the space, gathering in the middle of the gallery, stopping for some minutes, leaning against the walls, starting to walk around again. Hissing However romantically evocative, the performance was not just about light effects. What struck me the most instead, when people’s whispers were not that audible, was the difference among the flames’ hissings. This acoustic aspect of the performance was not easily detectable, but it managed to create an apparently static yet slightly dynamic sounding environment. This dynamism was due to the fact that each of the hissings had a specific tone, with its own specific character, volume, tension. The geologic displacement This noise, together with the displacement of a land-art performance and the light effects it modulated, appeared as metaphor for the conceptual articulations of Sonic Acts’ main theme. The geologic imagination can be sparked outdoors. It is generated by natural environments, organic processes, tectonic occurrences. Although happening in the first instance outdoors, it is brought indoors by thinkers and practitioners to be presented and discussed. Furthermore, each lecture and each performance, just like the hissings at W139, differ one from the other thanks to their specific characteristics, which manage to articulate a complexity of visions and analyses. Eventually, the fire is extinguished, leaving us in our primordial darkness. It’s up to us to ignite the flames back to light.

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