Last Saturday the 15th of October the Kirkos Ensemble presented an evening of interdisciplinary music and performance art dedicated to the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and 70s. Anyone expecting a regular concert experience, where each art piece is usually exhibited separately or in succession from one another, was immediately immersed in a boundaryless environment of continuous art which would seamlessly overlap. These sound pieces would generally materialise from within the spectators and blend with the natural acoustic environment giving birth to a collective experience where no sound or action was more important than another.
This collectivity not only refers to an aural experience but also one that saw every performer contributing to achieve a correlative goal; the treatment of music, visual art, literature, sound and movement as an equal to itself as well as to everything around it. Nothing was forced to take prominence; the prominence came from what the listener allowed to be at the forefront of their encounters.
Everything was anonymous, so much to the point that it left one questioning who, where and what was happening. This was a very healthy and invigorating method as it separated people’s expectations from a certain composer or a certain instrumental setup. The programme note and biography were eradicated giving each performance a clean slate in which it could evolve, not having to meet any expectations of the usual descriptive promotions. There was sound and visual, and that was all.
What made this multidisciplinary event so successful was the four levels of performance spaces, each with an opening in the floor to enable sound to travel freely as well as allowing the audience to witness multiple events from different viewing/hearing angles. This in turn strengthened the collective aural experience as one could hear echoes of sound coming from above or beneath whilst perceiving what was physically in front of them. Sound structures melded together naturally and in this aleatoric world everything felt organic and pure; and very real.
I was fortunate enough to have one of my compositions performed within the Fluxus celebration and as I stood back and listened I could hear a sound-world begin to form consisting of Kirkos’ interpretation of the graphics I had provided, the performing shouts and actions of Jennifer Walshe coming over the balcony from the floor just above, as well as the reiteration of a piano chord in a Feldman-esque manner ascending from the ground floor. None of this was planned and could never have been foreseeable but in the space and in the moment, everything that was audible leant a hand in forming accidental relationships to create a consistently sounding habitat; one artistic entity that was traversing around the performance space throughout the entire evening. As a result this event became one intuitive web of art and sound held together by differing strands of silence. Here, however, these silences could have been considered compositions themselves as each were full to the brim of the environmental performance space which constantly pushed the limen of the individual observer.
This abolition of a structured concert, with the concentration on individual pieces non-existent, was incredibly refreshing. It placed the focus on sound itself, which is something that is done very seldom, and allowed each individual to take away a completely different experience relying on how much engagement one allowed themselves to have with what was presented. I congratulate Kirkos and all performers, composers and organisers involved as the result was a rare and innovative occurrence; one that hopefully will gradually become the norm in the future.
Photos by Daryl Feehely