Light Night Commission:
Afloat, in Land, Leggate Theatre

Liverpool’s annual Light Night event once again delivered an exciting dynamic programme of evening events. Galleries stayed open into the night with many offering one off events, and it is these that provide the real excitement with the diverse range of art, live music, theatre and light installations. This transformed the city into a hub of creativity, with the events spilling from the galleries into the streets, using the city as one big art gallery and offering the ultimate chance for experimentation. As the name Light Night suggests, for me it is the light installations which provide the spectacle, being particularly effective within the darkness of the city.

Afloat, in Land was one of the one-off performances taking place at the Victoria Gallery’s Leggate Theatre by Friend or Foe, a collective of artists and musicians who experiment with live music and multi channel film projections. Afloat, in Land is a new work which was developed over their three month residency in a remote town on the coast of Iceland. The result is an audio reactive and visual installation which explores themes of the Icelandic landscape, legends and myths. The projection reflects the fractured landscape, fluctuating light and flowing winds, capturing the essence of this frozen world, thus it’s very much about an experience rather than communicating a coherent narrative. The visual projection takes over the theatre walls, with the images blurring into each other creating a sense of distortion,  this combined with unearthly sounds transform the space into a surreal refuge. The projection and the music take the viewer on an immersive journey that whilst revealing the beautiful tranquillity of the shifting ice and soaring birds, also shows the harshness to this unforgiving land and the bleakness of the icy conditions, the jagged mountains and unforgiving terrain. There is a suggestion that the experience is less whimsical than one first thinks, allowing you to encounter the aspect of survival within this challenging part of the world, albeit from a distanced perspective.

For the performance itself viewers were encouraged to lie on bean bags placed on the theatre floor and gaze upwards to the back wall where the installation was projected, creating a sense of community and shared experience; where like the landscape, the projection becomes overpowering as you can’t physically take all of it in at the same time. It was this aspect to the installation that made it successful, visually creating a sense of serenity and immense space through film. The space itself presented a challenge, in the respect that it wasn’t as stark as a gallery, which has the benefit of a neutral blank space which creates a certain sense of intimacy.  Whilst Afloat, in Land induces a sense of the sublime by being surrounded by Iceland’s landscape and an incomprehensible awe to this little charted land; it would be interesting to view the installation within a more enclosed space which would heighten the feelings created within the piece.

Friend Or Foe will be performing Fallen Light an interactive live AV Performance-installation at Also Festival, Park Farm, Compton Verney, Warwickshire.

Saturday, June 18, 2016 – Sunday, June 19, 2016

 

Claire Walker is a writer based in Wigan