Sometimes Liverpool reminds me how active it is with contemporary arts festivals. LightNight is an annual free event where for one-night only recognised galleries and museums, combined with local an independent pop-ups celebrate arts and culture. Perhaps more inclusive than my experience of the Liverpool Biennial, here more than 100 organisations join together to create a free-flow of talks, workshops, performance, live music, etc.
The 2019 theme is based around Rituals, which are seen “…as a universal phenomenon, spanning the breadth of human history, and also as an artistic process by which we shift our state of mind.” (Open Culture, 2019). Luckily for me I was still in Liverpool to see the event. I have previously partaken in LightNight so this was a chance to view it from the outside. Rather than going for quantity, and as usual choosing to take in interests beyond photography, I focused on two pieces that had a greater connection to interaction and meditation.
For interaction I visited Permutations at RIBA North, in the atrium next to the Open Eye Gallery. It has been a place of interest for various installations in the past and in this case also. Rather than being on object to view, Permutations synthesises two disciplines, architecture and music. The interior of each of the six structures contain a piece of music. The acoustics can be adjusted by the viewer by playing with the doors, thereby impacting on the individual experience. I found the overall composition to be limited. All of the music pieces are violin solos, thereby becoming a repetitive experience. This is explained as a ritual that the participant creates, however the differentiations in each structure is perhaps too subtle and could’ve been enhanced as a dynamic experience by having different musical compositions and instruments affecting each structure. However the facilitatory nature of the piece is my main takeaway, again something I could consider for future levels of participation if I wished to engage with the public directly.
The meditative element of ritual I found was taking in a performance of Tony Conrad’s Ten Years on an Infinite Plain at Tate Liverpool. The piece is an audio visual arrangement of four emerging, and later converging film loops accompanied by a minimal droning soundtrack. The musical piece was performed live in the room while four 16mm projectors hypnotised the viewer with a grainy binary aesthetic. At 90 minutes long, perseverance and commitment were needed to see the whole performance through, not to mention sacrificing the chance to visit more events across the city. For those who were engaged and found the repetition powerful, the reward was the suspense as the four projectors converged, gradually overlaying the images into the centre.
My main takeaways from this performance, beyond the ringing ears was the reward of persistence in ritual. In repeating a simple idea, new insights, ways of seeing and moments of clarity emerge, if one believes in it. This was a satisfactory conclusion after a week of creating interventions on the streets of Liverpool, where my main learning was based upon creating a workflow, or indeed ritual that is fluid in producing a formation in the public space. Unfortunately I will not be in Liverpool for the more directly relevant LOOK photo biennial in June, however this proved to be a form of closure to the time in my former home.
LightNight (no date) Available at: http://lightnightliverpool.co.uk (Accessed on 15.05.19)
RIBA (no date) Available at: https://www.architecture.com/contact-and-visit/riba-north (Accessed on 15.05.19)
Tate (no date) Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk (Accessed on 15.05.19)