Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
The Broadway Cinema, Nottingham
24 June 2012
Reviewed by: Adrian Shaw »
Held at the Broadway, Nottingham’s celebrated award-winning cinema, and following on from his previous Broadway performance there in April this year, SAM POTTER explored further areas of ‘sensory alchemy’ in the dark. The audience is exposed to music and spoken word which (as in my case) results in experiences of synaesthesia ). Other earlier examples of similar explorations and work have occurred in ‘psycho-based’, experiential, expressionistic art (one thinks of the work of Van Gogh, Mondrian, Aubrey Williams, to name a few). In this, his latest rendition, Sam Potter sought to have the aspect of ‘live performance’ to give freshness and sharpness to the whole experience. As before, his musical ‘acompaniaments’ contrasted sharply with the spoken text or ‘industrial’ sound-phrases, chiming against them , in a dissonant way – which led to a unique, at times, personal (from the punter’s standpoint), ‘psychological’ realisation.
The evening’s work, or performance, was organised into three parts. Earlier reports of Potter’s work have described it as a ‘gig’ – a term which, I think, hardly does justice to the underlying complexity of his particular art-form. As with other Potter experiences, the audience was frozen, locked into a capsule of darkness – which at times seemed completely black.
The First part was a general introduction. At the start of this, Potter talked the audience through a ‘health and safety’ protocol (as our cinematographic experience guide - something often encountered in North American movie-houses, incidentally).
After that we were exposed, in almost complete darkness, to various rhythmic and arrhythmic sound-passages, including musical phrases. Some of this reminded me of the debt that today’s experimental/experiential musicians owe to ‘The Floyd’.
As no doubt with others present, I experienced a flash of synaesthesia – although in my case I did not associate colour with a sudden noise, but a zig-zag oscilloscopic trace – almost a crashing vision (probably deriving from my scientific persona!)
After a short interval, the Second part contained a wonderful expressive reading by Charles Washington (which was the Owl story from Ted Hughes’s ‘How The Whale Became: and Other Stories). Coupled with the ongoing ‘soundscape’, this really was a stark, memorable experience.
In conclusion, I felt the whole thing was really worthwhile, very surprising and a further significant development of Sam Potter’s deeply psychological work. Unfortunately, given the lateness that the event finished, no audience feedback per se was possible, although we were able to meet the artist briefly in the reception area afterwards. At times, I felt that the work bordered, at least at the start, on ‘sensory deprivation’ (ironically – given that we were free to roam, albeit with the ‘lash of sound’ within our own minds). But as the performance proceeded this receded, becoming, as I said initially, more a ‘sound alchemical’, experiential experiment; a duo-media (rather than multi-media) one – but obviously 4th dimensional in essence.
Potter has been making a splash earlier (as at ‘The Broadway’ in April this year) and elsewhere, including London. But here, at Nottingham’s cinematic gem, perhaps given the ‘intimacy’ of the place, it was a bigger splash, perhaps, than before. Oh, and I really enjoyed the music!
c. Adrian Shaw
ADRIAN SHAW is sci-artist and writer working in Nottingham. Originally based at The Chococolate Factory, Haringey, North London, he has been an performer, creative writer and project officer of Greater London Arts and is registered with ACE as a creative practitioner. His work has been shown and published in the UK, Europe and North America. He trained at the University of London, Central St Martin's, UAL, and De Montfort Unversity. He has been a freelance member of NUJ, a distinction licentiate member of The Royal Photographic Society and is currently a member of NAWE and Nottingham Creative Network.
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