Thursday, 27 October 2011

'Contours' First Night: Illuminating York 2011

The Illuminating York festival successfully got underway last night with reports from the public of a bending building down at the Eye of York and ethereal Viking presence at the Dean's Park by the Minster.

The atmosphere in the Park was quite wonderful - the piece invites the listener to stand within a circle of light to hear the languages and the poetry, to experience the sounds of early medieval instruments and even older instruments, such as the bullroarer and bone flute.
The idea of the circle on this site for me opens up all the ideas associated with the passing on of stories via oral tradition, the way you gather around a fire to be entertained and informed by those who have committed to memory both myths and how one should approach the gods.

The Contours site early evening, prior to opening...

For Contours in York, this knowledge, this experience, comes to you as you stand in the centre of the sound moving around you, the Viking and Anglo-Saxon ancestors come to you. There is also the unity of experience offered to everyone in the circle.
Usually we all look to a specific given point for visual stimulus. Inside the circle, there is no fixed point, you can move round the circle and hear it differently wherever you stand, the circle changes its atmosphere through the supporting lighting and 'woodsmoke'.
My experience of the site has been quite powerful when the weather actually gets going and the wind is whipping through the trees. It was originally conceived to work within and fuse with a rural environment so instead of the weather detracting from the experience, in the Dean's Park it positively enhances it. So, if it is windy, definitely come down! The sounds of the rustling trees with the kulning, the raven cries, the music and the whispered poetry is a unique and very positive experience.
If anybody out there is particularly drawn by ideas of Viking history, epic poetry and the Edda, talk of the Nordic gods in a suggestive atmosphere, one which spreads over the Park and seems to just enhance the peaceful mysticism of the space next to the Minster, then this is the place for you! (Between 6.30pm and 10pm every evening, last night Saturday.)

I must also say a word here about my companion here on lighting, Nev Milson. He has done a wonderful job of supporting this installation and working with me on creating an overall feel in the unpredictable outdoors. The lighting and effects are being manipulated live in response to the audience throughout the evening.

Here are some pictures from the circle last night. Some are a little soft due to low light conditions, but they give an interesting impression of what it going on:

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Contours Installation: Illuminating York 2011

Yesterday was a beautiful day onsite at York Minster, atmospheric and evocative.

Here are some pictures of activity yesterday:

After dark, the Park was transformed:

Looking forward to seeing how it looks tonight.