How the darkness sounds
This is the third performance by Glen Neath and David Rosenberg using binaural sound and absolute darkness. Called Fiction, it is a 60 minute entrancing, immersive and surreal journey through the sprawling architecture of our dreams.
Glen Neath e David Rosenberg portano al Battersea Arts Centre di Londra il terzo spettacolo interamente costruito sulla registrazione di suoni binaurali. Nella totale oscurità, il paesaggio sonoro è l’unico riferimento che abbiamo. Tra realtà, finzione, sonno e veglia, Fiction ci trascina in oniriche, inquietanti situazioni kafkiane in cui tutto può accadere.
On entering the performance room, captions on a screen inform the audience that total darkness must be maintained throughout the performance. The clearest instructions being to “Turn you phones off. Not on silent. Off”’. Which means no sound, no audible connection with the outside world, and then the lights go out. A series of pictures glide across the screen; a forest, corridors, and hotel rooms. The images combine to form the essence of a well-worn hotel, neglected and depersonalised, so much so that you are touched by a quivering discomfort, reminiscent of some old fifties thriller, or your creepiest dream.
With your headphones on, you have no idea what’s happening around you. A French, feminine, soothing voice keeps whispering into your left ear that she is your companion, you can trust her, and she invites you to fall asleep. In a matter of moments you no longer know if you are awake or dreaming. But, after all, what does it matter? The soundscape is so dense and riveting that there is literally no room for anything else. You hear dozens of noises, each one from a different direction. You are certain that there is someone behind you, you clearly hear some footsteps. An echo of a heavy, metallic door closing comes directly from the end of the corridor. But there are no longer any corridors to be seen. Of course you are still in the Battersea Arts Centre, but it is now a haunting and disorientating space. When the soundscape changes to a bird chirping and rustling in the leaves of a tree, you sense immediately, as impossible as it is to believe, that this place belongs to your past.
For those who have never experienced a binaural 3D sound performance, it is necessary to explain that what it conveys will be one of the most engrossing experiences thet will ever hear. The uncanny, dreamlike effect which this spatial sound technology creates definitely has potential. The level of intimacy, for example, that can conjure so readily and easily is manipulative and alarming.
The series of interwoven Kafkaesque situations that follow weave from irony to the surreal and the sinister. You wander – or is it that you wonder? – around the hotel accompanied by your outwardly calming and reassuring French female chaperon. You are given random tasks; you meet suspicious people whose logic is inaccessible; you repeatedly wake up in a car, under endless rain; are threatened by the voice of an American guy; you even overhear that a man was stabbed in the throat with a pen, and now sits on your toilet.
Beneath the weighty darkness, the narrative occasionally withers. You may perceive a certain sense of claustrophobia, where you have nothing other than your ears to work what’s going on. Apart from this, the fascination of the journey makes it totally worth it. This show can be defined as one more successful, enthralling and experimental immersive production by Glen Neath and David Rosenberg.
Fiction was staged at
Battersea Arts Centre
London – SW11 5TN
until Saturday the 8th of February
Tue-Thu h 7:30 & h 21:00
running time 60 mins
conceived by David Rosenberg and Glen Neath
written by Glen Neath
directed by David Rosenberg
music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham
video design by Susanne Dietz
production Management by Jonathan Beattie
produced by Fuel