Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fringe Festival: The Blue Collection

I went to see an excellent live performance last night which was part of The Blue Collection exhibition at Art Space in the Festival Centre, in Adelaide. This was a part of the ongoing Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Three performers - Eugene Ughetti, with Matthias Schack-Arnott and Fleur Green - played a percussion performance work on a set of blue glass works that were (for the most part) created specifically as glass percussion instruments. Objects such as bowls, cups, plates and saucers as well as more obsure shapes such as domes and a number of 'glass xylophones' occupied Arts Space.

The performance itself was amazing, so congratulations to the percussionists and to Eugene, the composer of the works. Of course, I do have to mention that it was all very serious business, which I'm not sure is always a good thing but that it just my take on it. I suppose an absolute sense of seriousness fits well with certain art music situations, but maybe I'm a tad too sarcastic and cynical these days, I don't know.

The exhibition and the performance were presented stunningly - with an excellent sense of balance and space. I have seen similar percussion and music-type events to this one at various festivals in the past.

However, I do have to say that what sets this one apart from the rest is that the glass and the objects are not treated as a superficial gimmick used to draw in crowds. Instead, the exploration of object and sound is carried out to an intense depth, and this is something that shone through in the musical work as well as the way in which the performers treated their instruments.

To some degree, I am reminded of the idea of focused listening versus textured listening. While a different approach to composition using these objects might have resulted in music that favoured an overall, more general mode of listening, the spacial elements and the mix and voicing of the glass objects definetely encouraged a more focused mode of listening.

In a way, this work reminds me of a sort of anti-musique concrete. What do I mean with this? Well, instead of de-clicheing found objects and their sounds using recording technology, objects that appear to be found objects but are in fact specifically created instruments. Furthermore, the setting of the objects in an exhibition space seems to highlight the idea that many of the objects seem to have a prototypical function, and the visual nature of the performance helps to marry this idea of function with the sounds that are created.

Finally, I have to say that when people come to a concert, they should act like they are coming to a concert. They shouldn't leave halfway through a movement. They shouldn't leave their mobile phones switched on. They shouldn't enter after half an hour.


Tristan Louth-Robins said...

Nice blog Seb, I was meaning to check this out but ended up at a birthday party last night drinking horrendous pear Schnapps.

Focused/textural listening: hmmmm...wouldn't have anything to do with a conversation I had you last Sunday would it? ;)

Sebastian Tomczak said...

Hi Tristan,
Thanks for your comment.

Yeah the show was awesome.

I can't remember what we spoke about last Sunday, but I was referencing a presentation that you gave at forum once...

- Seb