Sounding the River

Last night, by elbowing aside wife and child, I was able to be the first member of the public to enter Sounding the River, the new environmental installation project led by Jony Easterby. mac has a proud history of commissioning such projects and this piece, which mostly follows the path of the river Rae upstream from the arts centre, marks the end of their Fiftieth Birthday Celebrations. As expected it’s a delight.

Essentially it’s a group exhibition responding to the river and park as a site. Early on works by Mark Anderson proliferate, clean and pure applications of sampled sounds of birds and insects with LED lights. I’m a huge fan of Marks and particularly loved the clicking zooming length of Cicada Telegraph. Ulk Mark Pedersen‘s neon water ripples are seductive, elsewhere he uses projections, most effectively utilizing shifting angles of our footpath approach to fragment what appears a simple projection. Kathy Hind gives us a beautiful flock of origami style birds flying silently upstream and in the woods we get up close to see vertically mounted piano strings apparently played by the flying wings of projected birds, but in fact hammered by mechanical devices bolted on and electronically triggered. Johny contributes a variety of elegant pieces including a band of musicians playing on platforms in the stream and one of his ‘greatest hits’ – the morphing under a video lens of snails into a acid trip vision of weirdness (see video above).

The whole experience is sensitively and imaginatively curated. Though I wasn’t particularly engaged by Anna Lucas‘ projections their clarity and brightness in the woods balanced the smokey mysticism of Red Earth‘s flames and incense and gongs. I find their ritualized performance leaves me unmoved but this was Eve’s favourite piece. There’s even an ‘apprentice’ section at the end of the trail where young artists have been mentored and given space to show what they can do – a next generation being brought on.

Throughout there’s such variety and consistently high quality to the pieces in Sounding The River that surely everyone must leave enriched. The project runs until Sunday and though I has been fully sold out I have hear rumours that mac are trying to make more tickets available so it would be worth phoning them up. If they are sold out then why not go down to Cannon Hill park in the evening any way, some of the work is visible from the cycle path and it would be a shame to miss out on everything.

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