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Review: Compositional Constructs at the Unconscious Archives Festival

Compositional Constructs, part of the programme for London’s inaugural Unconscious Archives Festival, brought together four pioneering electronic music artists at Café Oto to present their innovative work exploring optical sound and performance art.

Miriam Bleau soft Revolvers photo by Severin Smith

Featuring the artists Myriam Bleau (CA), Mariska de Groot (NL), Leafcutter John (UK), and Dawid Liftinger (AT); Compositional Constructs showcased not just performance but remarkable ingenuity with artists interacting with electronic devices of their own creation to produce the kind of music that has finally caught up with the promises of its 20th century pioneers.


Myriam Bleau, Soft Revolvers.  Video:  FAD Live

These are devices that interpret light and movement then translate into rich and sophisticated soundscapes.  Remarkably, for work that has the character of what was once considered science fiction, these are performances that connect the once future vision of a theoretical avant garde with the present. If the objective of the Unconscious Archives festival overall is to explore the human attachment and traceable engagements with technology, then what Compositional Constructs showcased was how this group of artists participating are capable of crafting original and distinctive experiences through highly nuanced, gesture based programming of electronic devices.  The event presented artists of today who are defining the vanguard that looks beyond the horizons of Mountain View and Cupertino.


Mariska De Groot, Stirred Mandala.  Video: FAD Live

Mariska De Groot of Holland premiered Stirred Mandala, which echoed the mystical origins of James Whitney’s work such as Yantra.  More than just sound art through the interpretation of movement and light, her performance presented a type of music that was once the future and has now manifested itself in the immediacy of the present.


Leafcutter John, Light Interface.  Video:  FAD Live

Leafcutter John, presented Light Interface using photo sensitive grids, handheld bicycle lights and an array of other seemingly everyday sources of light.  The result is a musical exploration through interpretative soundscape.

His performance presented an ethereal musical journey through a responsive interpretative synthesised electronic landscape.  He is creating, through his own invention, the tools and platform to realise what the great minds of electronic popular music’s first brush with the art world’s avant garde aspired to achieve in their composition and performances.

Austrian Dawid Liftinger’s Sound And Light uses a digital interface of software, Arduino and circuit relays, the fluorescent tubes are turned on and off, their sound recorded, replayed and amplified, whilst the audience sits in a circle around the tubes gathered as if around a bonfire.


Dawid Liftinger, Sound & Light.  Video:  FAD Live.

Performing her work Soft Revolvers, Myriam Bleau of Canada closed the programme of Compositional Constructs using four arcylic spinning tops of her own design.  Each top is associated with an ‘instrument’ in an electronic music composition, and the motion data collected by sensors placed inside the tops – informs the musical algorithms.



Unconscious Archives Festival, presented in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum features the accompanying exhibition Emotion + the Tech(no)body (28 Rutland Gate, London SW7) and continues its programme of live events at Corsica Studios, 28th September and the Close-Up Film Centre, 30th September. ua2017.unconscious-archives.org

Haptic Somatic
An enlivened club night featuring artists working with electronic music as medium across an atypical trajectory mixing live performance, noise, sound and light compositions, and club music featuring the following artists: ZIÚR (DE) / EWA JUSTKA (PL/UK) / SPATIAL (UK) / YAXU (UK) / PHANTOM CHIPS (AU/UK) / LAURIE TOMPKINS (UK) / MARTA FORSBERG (SE) / BILLY ROISZ & DIEB13 (AT) / & DJS CHLOE FRIEDA (UK) TRISTAN BATH (UK/AT) Thursday 28 September, 8:30pm-2am. Corsica Studios, 4/5 Elephant Rd, London SE17 1LB

Narrativize  An evening of live film, digital art and performative actions exploring de/construction of narrative featuring the following artists: JAMES HOLCOMBE & SECLUDED BRONTE (UK) / ESPERANZA COLLADO (ES) / FOXY MORON (UK) / JÖRG PIRINGER (AT). Saturday 30th September, 7pm Close-Up Film Centre,97 Sclater St, London E1 6HR



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Review: Narrativize, at the Close Up Film Centre (Video)

A stone’s throw from Brick Lane, the Close Up Film Centre hosted a night of performance and experimental film as part of Narrativize, from the series of events that have formed the Unconscious Archives Festival on September 30th.

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