See the Central Library in a different light

Performance can appear in all guises, and the recent Enlighten 2015 Festival of Sound and Art in Manchester, organised by Curated Place, showed how powerful sound and light installations can be.  Situated mainly in the Central Library, over twenty works were spread over three floors.  For three evenings the Library lost its formal quiet face and filled with strange sounds and images.  Immediately on entering you’re faced with the kinetic light sculpture KIC 8462852 and light/jewellery sculpture Chandelier of Lost Earrings.

IMG_0202The main Reading Room was transformed by Surrounded By Strangers, the voices from twelve screens forming a choir which came together as a single unit, best experienced as close to the acoustic dome as possible.  This is a superb space to create performance (also see Reading Room from Quarantine last year), given its usual silence.

IMG_0204The Music Library featured Library of the Unwanted, an English/German collaboration that created flickering sodium light, and a low, haunting and unsettling hum.  Several other works included Piano Migrations (nature appears to control a piano) and Lost and Found (light projections make you one or the other), alongside related adult and children’s activities.

IMG_0221Downstairs, Carlos Bernal’s Entropy was a sound and light installation that formed hypnotic, psychedelic shapes on a screen in time to his pulsing soundtrack.  Strangely late twentieth century in design, and reminiscent of dance, this drew you into its world.  Beyond the Silver Pit is a moving new poetry work exploring the lives of Hull’s fishing community in the nineteenth century, and was projected onto the stairwell ceiling coming up to the ground floor.  Sodley-on-Sea created imaginary social landscapes from a British seaside town using old photographs with keen observation and humour.

IMG_0186Across at the Bridgewater Hall the theme was birds.  Luminous Birds illuminated a flock of origami birds in sequence to evoke the illusion of flight in the square in front.  One Thousand Birds hung on the upper floor and featured projections onto a a backdrop created by a thousand folded paper birds.

As with all installations of this kind, there will be some that you love and some that don’t do much for you.  But the overriding memory is the way that these events occupy and transform our everyday buildings and make us see them in a different way.  An event that Manchester really should be proud of.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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