North WestReview

Centaure – The Lowry, Salford

Music: Franck Vigroux
Video: Kurt d`Haeseleer
Reviewer: Peter Jacobs

Presented as part of the The Lowry’s autumn programme of digital art, Centaure is a live performance by two European artists, who’s work is more usually seen within the international festival scene: French musician Franck Vigroux and Belgian video artist/filmmaker Kurt d’Haeseleer.

Centaure is a ‘postdigital road trip to a dystopic future’ promising a ‘world populated by cloned creatures and mutations of species that seem to have been rebuilt from contaminated DNA’. The show is essentially a highly-structured improvisation by both artists, following an agreed path but still responding to one another and incorporating that into a sinister digital world that spews from their machines into the darkness.

The video material – which is projected large onto the white back of the Quays stage – is constructed from footage filmed by d’Haeseleer over a number of years, some of it with thermal cameras. Non-linear and non-narrative, there are common themes and imagery – people, crowds, murmuration, traffic, urban landscapes – which are manipulated and distorted. Time and light is redefined, bodies are motionless or tormented, or explode into pixellation and reform: the universe appears to expand and contract like a beating heart. The visual images strobe between flesh and new digital empires, like millions of beetles spilling from a broken carapace. It’s like seeing the world through alien eyes, nothing entirely unfamiliar but everything that human eyes cannot register is revealed – the unseen world that is disguised by our feeble vision, the environmental contamination in which we are immersed unawares. Time, light, sound, structure are illusions. d’Haeseleer manipulates images to their digital limits and skilfully de- and reconstructs the debris with violent stillness.

The accompanying musical soundscape is played entirely live without computers. Vigroux effortlessly creates an immense and varied industrial wash of deafening, structured white noise and beats, never quite melodic and never unlistenable. With his collaborator’s live video manipulation on a small screen in front of him, Vigroux responds instinctively to create a universe of sound that responds to the imagery. As with the visuals, it is somewhere between music and having everything your ears cannot process unleashed unfiltered into your cranium.

Part-gig, part-gallery installation, it is a shame The Lowry couldn’t have attracted a larger audience for Centaure. It is a quite remarkable and thought-provoking immersive sensory experience by two quietly charismatic artists working as one. But falling between show and digital art installation maybe made it a hard sell. There is a lot of work by both artists available online and it is worth exploring further.

Reviewed on 14th October 2017 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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