24 September – 11 October 2014
Liquid Architecture 2014 toured Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Singapore, abandoning the event's long running claim to being a 'sense-specific’ festival of sound art in favour of an ear for work reflecting its political, social and economic conditions. This involved, above all, a listening to language, writing and the voice - to text in its many forms. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the festival’s Melbourne leg launched with The Ear is a Brain at the Meat Market headlined by Robin Fox and his RGB Laser Show – a media arts equivalent of celebratory fireworks in which the audience was assaulted by a massive PA, barrages of smoke machines and three lasers.
Stutterances took place at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Clemenger Auditorium the next night. Ur 1st Luv greeted the audience on arrival. Seated in the foyer, they read a list of donors that had contributed to the crowdfunding of their work A Sound Investment. A salient comment on the political economy of the arts but it may have been lost on many in the room unfamiliar with the group’s work. What followed was a night of ‘lecture-performances’, the high point being Alessandro Bosetti’s performance of Mask/Mirror, in which he improvised with a computer based system and vocal recordings. 'A road paved with textual happiness', as he himself exclaimed early in the piece, it fitfully turned from absurd monologues to confused conversations and nervous song, eventually breaking up into a stream of vocal ticks. Johannes Kreidler’s powerpoint presentation was also noteworthy, the highlight of which was This Tulip of which I am Speaking and which I Replace in Speaking. Playfully exploring the implications of this line made famous by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the work staged a recursive interplay between Kreidler’s own voice, text, music notation and electronic noises.
Hong-Kai Wang presented her Conceptual Biography of Chris Mann in an afternoon event at Gertrude Contemporary. Demonstrating the perils of any attempt at biography, a fractured, biased and romantic but nonetheless engaging portrait of the influential Australian artist/composer/poet/performer emerged from a complicated but obscure process. Questions of authorship, perspective, community and politics plagued the work, but I suspect that may have been the point.
Despite featuring few performances that left a strong impression and suffering, ironically, from a lack of attention to sound in many instances, Liquid Architecture 2014 in Melbourne was a vibrant, challenging and invigorating festival. The reading groups held by a number of visiting artists created a space of intellectual engagement and discussion that permeated the event. Christof Migone’s Hit Parade closed the festival in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall – a scored piece calling for 50 participants to pound microphones into the ground 1000 times each while lying down. While the work lacked conceptual depth beyond the play on words of its title, it sounded impressive and gave a palpable sense of individuals falling in and out of step with each other.