Review: Sonica

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Robin Fox, photo by Lasse Marhaug

Sonica, a festival of sonic arts showcasing both British and International artists, had its world premier in Glasgow this November. The festival was produced by a company called Cryptic, whose goal is to nurture and develop the Scottish visual arts.  Their intentions came to fruition in this two-week festival.  Showcasing a wide variety of work from international artists (including our very own Luke Fowler) Sonica presented a range of interesting shows: including their children’s program, presenting the darker side of ‘Ecstatic Art’, as well as putting on a generous amount of free exhibitions.

Robin Fox, photo by Lasse Marhaug

Sonica utilized a wide range of interesting spaces in Glasgow. This provided not only an artistic experience for the viewers but also an element of adventure, in which  punters must discover the various locations of the shows. However, this may have been a touch too experimental at points- the “pop up festival hub” was a little too spontaneous and on another occasion, a miscommunication led to one of the exhibitions being cut short a day early without any warning.  But, despite this, one must admire the artistic ingenuity of the organizers.  The shows that were presented successfully, on location and on time, were triumphant.

Robin Foxe’s Laser show, for instance, was a particular hit. Upon viewing the show, there was a separate installation as you entered into the performance space which gave you a feel for what you were about to experience. The piece played on the idea of our modern day conception of fun: in the liquid, musical and visual sense. It was an arrangement of glasses catching the light as they rotated on a disk turntable.  A simple idea but one which captivates the viewer and could engage you for hours, as the light cut through the glasses in speckled flecks. The performance space was not a seated floor plan, but just people standing in an open space. There was an unusual element to the show in the sense that there was more than one area which required your attention. I anticipated that I would be concentrating solely in the direction of the light source, but then would entirely miss the actual projection of the light onto the back wall. In between these two displays were the strong beams of green light cutting through the room to create a performance with three spheres of entertainment.

The room filled with smoke and different sound effects were used- they were not quite melodic at first but then built into a rhythm. Paired with heavy bass that pounded through your body, Robin Fox successfully created a show that was not just visual but a physical.  The 45minute long laser show was just the right length as it submerged you into a bass induced trance whilst the green light display danced you into an intense mystifying journey.  It was a unique and captivating artistic experience, unlike many that I have witnessed before.

Overall, Sonica 2012 was a sensation. It thrust a new and unusual type of art and performance to our attention. I hope that it will provide an enduring addition to Glasgow’s already vibrant artistic landscape and thriving festival culture. I would strongly recommend readers to look out for Sonica’s next contribution- whether that be a one off show somewhere else in the world or the return of a full blown festival program. Sonica is one to look out for.

Words: Maxine Latinis



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