Last week I went to the opening of Chromatologies, a new digital art/music festival curated by .snd in Rotherham. I’ve never been to that part of South Yorkshire before, it always seemed rough as hell. It is. The first thing you will see after arriving in Rotherham Central train station is a disused nightclub. A disused boat that hosts a disused nightclub.
I was nervous heading into Rotherham, and rounded up the muscle of a contemporary artist. Someone who could help me if hands were scrunched and shoulders haunched.
A massive slab of Brutalist architecture in a spill-over town that has been around since the Medieval period. Really. These places are in every run-down town across the country. Purpose built spaces for the depressed natives to get their culture, if they want to.
The brute above hosted the Carsten Nicolai installation in its bowels. I vaguely knew what to expect, having done brief YouTube research: minimalist computer-based visuals with very hard algorithmic electronic music. Mostly beats and pulses.
Here is a piece by Nicolai from Sheffield’s own Lovebytes festival (2003):
I like the above piece. I enjoy it when sound and vision are interlocked and relative to each other. The installation at Chromatologies was in the same vein, but so much better. I’ve seen enough digital art and heard enough modern electronic composition to know what I do and don’t like. I’ve read too much of The Wire, but still don’t have the vocabulary for criticising this stuff. That’s probably best.
The strips of colour are constantly changing, based on a Max/MSP patched audio loop and pushed through the video’s RGB. It’s like watching a city’s lights as you fly past in a train. Here is a long-exposure photograph I took of a city’s lights as I flew past in a train:
The changing colours occupy your entire field of vision, your periphery is dominated by the mirrors on either wall extending and diminishing the image. The more you stare, the more tired your eyes get.
They relax and suddenly you slide under the glass: the three walls cease to exist and your entire visual field is occupied by these shifting images. It’s the best Magic Eye I ever experienced. Transcendent. Musically, it’s not the most amazing piece. It’s pretty good, but nothing too new. It sounded like this.
I drank some tart wine, had cheese on a cracker, said hellos, goodbyes and jumped in a car back to Sheffield.
It is well worth experiencing, and runs until 2nd October. There are a lot of excellent things coming up at Chromatologies over the next month. I intend to go to Rotherham again and encourage other people to.