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FESTIVAL REVIEW: Points of Departure

May 18, 2021

Points of Departure

Ray Lee

Shoreham Port

This is an ethereal experience, with an understated opening which both challenges and suggests that that might be all.  I overheard a few people saying ‘is that it?’, using the interesting industrial site to its full potential. The huge parade of open warehouses are lit with stark brilliance, huge pallets of wood of all different types both line the area and fill the nose with wooden odours and provide an olfactory sense track which combines with the strong metal sculptures in a curious way. The organic is static, stacked, and sawn, the mechanical all movement, triumphant, exuberant. This industrial setting allows the kinetic, rhythmic motions of the sculptural pieces to seem almost organic, exhibiting interactive behaviours which are suggested by the syncopated noises and motions they make.

It makes you feel small, warm and curious, like a small rodent creeping around some larger herd of lifeforms who do not see or sense us.  Added to the gentle background sense of excitement and anxiety from our reintroduction to the world of culture post pandemic this is a strange calming experience, hinting at the rhythms of life, the mechanistic movements and sounds meshing together to form organic movement, like clouds or waves. Each similar, but each different.  They rise to crescendo then fade, starting, almost calling to each other and ending with a lone tone, still seeking company in the dark.  We – the spectators – are gently herded by silent warehouse people, flat capped, apron coated and silent (who may or may not be the artist themselves..), they usher us to the next starting post.

We move through various installations, some more successful than others, all throwing huge shadows against the vast storerooms.  Giant Theremins underwhelm, sending out sci fi whale song, twisting wormlike pipeing gently turn and seek affirmations and connections from each other whilst the red lit towers of the power station rise behind, silverly monoliths mounted alongside the huge shipping locks display magical magnetic balls, tracing orbits endlessly with no apparent means of support,  echoing the invisible forces of the tides.   A giant pair of prone lock gates lay like gutted rusty skate wings, vividly lit from underneath with the  sounds of groaning from a life of toil. We pass spinning things, all is movement, the fine refinement of the mechanisms a jarring contrast to the scruffy working manufacturing site they are placed within, the darkness adding to the post-apocalyptic charm of Shoreham Port.

The climatic piece, a campanological cacophony of liner motion converted by human power to magnificent circular fairground cones which trace huge tonal arcs up into the sky before crashing down with a doppler grace leaving us dramatically washed by waves of focused sound. They start to swing, we quietly move around them, they swing, rise and fall around us, like the Bells of Bedlam, smashing past us with a dramatic blast of air and noise, falling into a cacophonous chorus with some inner harmonic structures.  Stark lighting glinting off the polished menal cones and throwing dramatic shadows on the warehouses beyond.

Then it slowly stops, the pendulous movement ends, the sound stops. We crunch out into the night, greeted by the swishing blades of Shoreham Port windmills as they slice though the darkness, sending scented wafts of freshly cut timber to mix in with the scent of the sea.  Bemused but amused the crowd seems happy, this is Kulture Returned and we have never been happier to be out here, on the perimeter, at the end of a desolate industrial spit with an hour to go to midnight.

Points of Departure suggests many things, and provides much thoughtful interest in the combination of sounds and their building interactive crescendos, it’s a thrilling experience allowing us to enjoy the novelty of being out, in public, with a large groups of strangers and all experiencing each other and the magnificent machine and the mystical musical  soundscape so expertly curated by Ray Lee.    It’s both installation and event, performance and concert, people applaud after the last notes fade, the applause itself a novelty to hear and be part of.

Brighton Festival is to be congratulated on bringing this delightfully strange event to us whilst Miss Rona continues to stomp their pandemic chaos across our land.  Points of Departure is a thoughtful experience and we depart into our brave new world having been given a glimpse of weird wonder in this most unlikely of places.

Info on this event, tickets and all other Festival Events here

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