A Feast for the Senses

We’re surrounded by sound, art and movement, which feed through every aspect of our world. From media to architecture, advertisement to passing car radios, we’re engulfed in a multitude of sounds and images that either plague or delight our senses. From buskers to classical music, pavement art to fine ‘gallery’ art – the range is broad and getting broader every day.

Although I’m profoundly deaf I also experience the same range of sounds as a person with unimpaired hearing, not to mention the sights, smells and other sensations, too. The difference for me is that I won’t hear in the same way as most people, so my perception of the overall experience will be different. Most of us have preferences for a particular type of music or style of art and the way we perceive those arts is different for each and every one of us.

I, too, have a sense of what I like and dislike. Through my music I’ve tried to break down barriers by pushing boundaries, bringing percussion out of the shadows and pushing my own limits as a sound creator.  I’m passionate about music that allows me to continue pursuing this goal. Along the way I’ve learned to open up my body to a new kind of listening, which has made for some truly exciting performance experiences.

I was thrilled when the opportunity arose to collaborate with dynamic Russian Artist Maria Rud. Maria, like me, is keen to push her own boundaries through a highly distinctive artistic style and to find unique ways for audiences to experience and engage with her work. I feel an artistic kinship with Maria – being able to work closely with her is an absolute joy.

Our first opportunity to perform together came at the National Museum of Scotland surrounded by an incredible array of historical artefacts displayed in the Grand Gallery. We almost became exhibits in our own right! Our AniMotion premiere definitely cemented our relationship! And it wasn’t just Maria and I that found it special. The audience, which included Vladimir Tolstoy, was treated to a spectacle in which music and art united in a way simply not experienced before. On that occasion Maria’s images – painted on a light box – were projected onto a large screen while myself and cellist Philip Sheppard performed. We played to her brushstrokes and she, in turn, painted to our music. The experience was amazing and the audience were completely absorbed and delighted with the performance.Collaboration can be a challenge, particularly between different sectors of the arts. However, sometimes artists seem naturally to come together when a particular dynamism or unifying force emerges between them. This was definitely the case with Maria and myself. We met in 2011 and the creative juices began to flow straight away. Although we quickly sparked each other’s interests it wasn’t immediately obvious how our union would pan-out. Maria enjoys working with the spiritual responses she ‘feels’ from music and I like to work to the vibration and feeling of sound. This connection soon developed into something we could share through a project called AniMotion – an exciting combination of live painting, live music and now dramatic architecture.

Our audiences have come to expect the unexpected, to be simultaneously astounded and satiated by an unforgettable and holistic feast for the senses. If you haven’t yet seen an AniMotion show you’re missing out on one of the finest artistic experiences around today – something I’m immensely proud to be able to say and equally proud to be a part of. I wholly recommend keeping an eye on my tour diary and booking tickets for the next event… there are some exciting projects on the horizon! AniMotion continues to evolve and grow into new dimensions. Now we are bringing some of the country’s grandest architecture into the mix. Our most recent venture was at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh where the imagery was projected onto the dramatic canvas of the building itself. The cathedral came to life; its stonework danced with each brushstroke and its acoustic sang with musical sounds – literally when it came to the contributions of vocalists Fay Fife and Rebecca Tavener! It was lovely to work again with Dave Heath, whose music I’ve recorded. DJ Dolphin Boy brought an electronic (and electrifying!) edge to the experience, too.

Image: © Douglas Robinson (used by kind permission)

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