MORE DARK THAN SHARK - FEATURE
BRIGHTON FESTIVAL 2010
Curated by Brian Eno in Brighton, UK, from May 1-23, 2010
BRIAN ENO: I've been an artist for my whole working life. In that time I've watched the ebb and flow of my 'own' ideas, and those of the culture around me, watched things develop from iconoclasm to cliché and back again, and seen ideas that were dismissed as ephemeral and inconsequential stay the course and outlast many that were at the time seen as important and substantial. I've also seen things recycle and re-recycle, returning with new vigour as a new generation discovers them. I conclude from this that it's nearly impossible to make a reliable assessment of the value of anything during its first flush of existence. Art history was always hard, but now it's become almost impossible - attempts to distinguish between 'high' and 'low' art, and between 'art' and 'craft' are increasingly irrelevant. My feeling is that culture is an ecology of ideas - and just as we wouldn't imagine a biological ecology where horses were seen as 'important' and goats as 'trivial', nor should we do the same thing with art.
I remember reading an interview with a Chicago police detective who had been very successful at tracing criminals. He was asked his secret. He said, 'If I find myself doing a double take, I do a triple take.' I reformulated this as 'Pay attention to what you're paying attention to.' This is a principle I've tried to follow - whether my attention is engaged by the most 'profound' fine art or the most 'trivial' pop, I want to acknowledge and take seriously the engagement.
This Festival's reputation rests on its commitment to presenting new and original talent in unexpected combinations - crossing the boundaries with ease and lightness. I'm excited about working in Brighton: I love the city, and I have great respect for the Festival, which has consistently placed itself at the cutting edge of the creative arts in Britain. I hope this edition of it will exercise the benefits of keeping the mind open and awake and clear of boundaries and snobberies.
A SELECTION OF EVENTS
APOLLO: FOR ALL MANKIND
May 1 & 2, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome
Performed by Icebreaker and BJ Cole with introductory talk by Brian Eno
Now an expanded Icebreaker ensemble and British pedal steel player BJ Cole bring this seminal album to the live arena for two exclusive nights at Brighton Festival.
Widely regarded as one of his most influential albums, Apollo was created by Eno, his brother Roger and Canadian guitarist-producer Daniel Lanois. It was conceived with filmmaker Al Reinert, who later used it as the soundtrack to his lunar documentary For All Mankind (1989).
This show returns the music to its original conception - a non-narrative counterpart to NASA footage from the Apollo programme.
Performed live to Reinert's film, this unique multimedia experience is the final frontier for Eno's ambient music milestone.
British new music innovators Icebreaker have performed the works of some of the best-known and most influential names in contemporary music including Louis Andriessen, Philip Glass and Michael Gordon, who commissioned their 2004 collaboration with Wayne McGregor's Random Dance. Pedal steel guitar innovator BJ Cole has collaborated with everyone from Björk and Beck to Groove Armada and John Cale.
77 MILLION PAINTINGS
May 1 - 23, Fabrica
Brian Eno began his career as a visual artist and has always been interested in the synthesis of sound and image.
77 Million Paintings is an ever-evolving audio-visual installation that continues this creative exploration.
The artwork was originally conceived in 2006 as the next evolutionary stage in Eno's fascination with the aesthetic possibilities of 'generative' software. It offered infinite, non-linear 'visual music' for the idle screen.
Since then Eno's vision has been transformed into a major gallery experience, shown across the world from the Venice Biennale and Milan Triennale to Tokyo and San Francisco.
Eno's hand-drawn images are cut up, rearranged and realigned to produce limitless variations. Completely random, entirely original, and constantly mutating, the results come to life on luminous screens in a brilliant display of colour, shape and form. To complete the experience, layers of ambient sound interweave to create a similarly morphing soundscape.
May 4 - 30, Lighthouse
Malcolm Le Grice is one of the central figures in British experimental film and video. He has been making work since the mid-1960s and continues to be exhibited internationally, including recent screenings at both Tate Modern and Tate Britain.
His experimental 1970 film Berlin Horse features an original Brian Eno soundtrack.
Based on two sequences - one eight millimetre original, re-shot, re-coloured and subject to multiple superimposition; the other, a piece of found early newsreel - the focus of Le Grice's short film is horses.
The result is a poetic drama of combined images, sound and integrated narrative. Berlin Horse is exhibited in the Lighthouse gallery space on a continuous loop.
To launch Lighthouse's Festival-long installation Berlin Horse, filmmaker, theorist and author Malcolm Le Grice presents previous films and discusses his work with curator and lecturer Maxa Zoller.
THIS IS PURE SCENIUS!
May 9, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome
Genius is individual, scenius is communal. Here seven individuals come together to imagine new forms of music, realised over three consecutive performances. This experiment had its only other outing last year as part of Luminous at the Sydney Opera House. In This Is Pure Scenius!, Brian Eno will be joined on stage by Karl Hyde, guitarist Leo Abrahams, synthesist Jon Hopkins as well as Tony Buck, Lloyd Swanton and Chris Abrahams who comprise Australian improvisation masters, The Necks.
Each concert picks up where the preceding one left off. Starting from a predetermined sequence of events, each performance allows the development of ideas across three concerts - sometimes quite similar, sometimes worlds apart.
Like a laboratory conducting an undisclosed experiment, This Is Pure Scenius! is a combustible, must-see mix of intellect, ideas and musical innovation.
Karl Hyde is the poet voice of Underworld who assimilated techno into the art-rock tradition with frantic cut-up lyrics, eccentric humour and waves of improvisation. Jon Hopkins is a musical shapeshifter, composer, pianist and self-taught studio wizard who co-produced Coldplay's Viva La Vida. Leo Abrahams was discovered by Eno and has since worked with Nick Cave and Grace Jones specialising in generating ambient sounds. Tony Buck, Lloyd Swanton and Chris Abrahams - collectively known as The Necks - are recognised as being among the world's most consistently great exponents of improvised music.
PHILIP GLASS ENSEMBLE: MUSIC IN 12 PARTS
May 12, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome
Music In 12 Parts is arguably the defining moment in the minimalist movement. Part 'theoretical exercise' and part 'deeply engrossing work of art', it crystallised all Glass's previous ideas and achievements. And though in essence it closed a chapter, it also contained many of the structural and harmonic conceptions that would characterise the composer's subsequent oeuvre. It received its world premiere in 1974, but wasn't recorded in its entirety until 1989. It remains the longest and most ambitious work the composer has written for his own ensemble.
Philip Glass holds a prominent place in late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century modern music. His breakthrough - Music In 12 Parts - was followed by the landmark opera Einstein On The Beach, created with Robert Wilson in 1976. Since then he has expanded his repertoire to include music for dance, theatre, chamber ensemble, orchestra and film. He has received three Academy Award nominations - for Martin Scorsese's Kundun, Stephen Daldry's The Hours and, most recently, Richard Eyre's Notes On A Scandal.
Here Philip Glass leads his own ensemble as a rare live performance of his four-hour epic.
THIS IS AFROBEAT!
May 14, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome
Tony Allen / Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
Two iconic African artists come together for one essential Afro-beat encounter. Tony Allen was the drummer and unofficial musical director of Fela Kuti's seminal band, Africa 70, from 1968 until 1979.
Together they pioneered the Afro-beat revolution, melding Nigerian highlife, jazz and James Brown-style funk grooves into a potent musical force.
Three decades on, Allen remains a restless innovator, incorporating dub, funk and hip-hop into his modern African mix.
After well-documented collaborations with Damon Albarn, last year Allen returned to his roots with a full-throttle Afro-beat release Secret Agent, featuring an all-singing, all-dancing international ensemble.
If Allen is the progenitor, then Seun Kuti - youngest son of Fela - is the natural successor to the Afro-beat crown. Leading his father's band Egypt 80 for the last decade, Seun has kept the Afro-beat agenda well and truly alive, perpetuating its pulsing rhythms and outspoken politics. Fronting one of the most formidable Afro-beat ensembles of all time - with many original alumni - might seem a daunting task. Yet the young Kuti leads the twenty-piece Egypt 80 with all the frenetic energy and bold defiance of Fela in his prime.
THIS IS TALES OF THE AFTERLIVES
May 22, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome
After a hard life on Earth, don't we deserve something more?
Last year, Sydney's Luminous Festival brought David Eagleman's cult book Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives to the stage in a world premiere collaboration between the author and Brian Eno. Now, in only its second ever outing, Eagleman and Eno reprise this pioneering multi-media production exclusively for Brighton Festival.
What happens after we die? Is heaven a bureaucracy? Are we recreated based on our credit card records? Does the afterlife contain only those people you remember? Or is it little more than our accumulated acts on replay? For a small book, David Eagleman's Sum asks some big questions!
Here Eagleman's short, sharp vignettes are 'reincarnated' for a live stage encounter by a diverse cast of 'readers', including the author with visual images from Wordsalad's Nick Robertson and music by Brian Eno.
Funny, provocative and profound, This Is Tales Of The Afterlives considers the fate that may await us and refracts new light on our here and now.
THIS IS AN ILLUSTRATED TALK!
May 23, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome
What is the purpose of Art? Do we need it or do we just like it? Are they different? Brian Eno discusses haircuts, surrender, complexity theory, painting, generative art, cybernetics, screwdrivers, autopoiesis, and music, and tries to show how they're connected.
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