Robbie Thomson is a Glasgow based artist and musician who specialises in kinetic sculptures and digital art experiments. He is at the Sonica Festival this year with a new production called Infinite Lives. Thomson recently presented a Tesla Coil live performance called XFRMR at the Edinburgh Fringe (also showing at Sonica on Wednesday November 1) and is looking to further push the boundaries of sonic art with Infinite Lives.
An animatronic head is on the stage and immediately draws the eye of the audience as they take their seats in Tramway 4 at the Tramway arts venue in Glasgow. During the performance this head comes alive and reacts to a spoken word soundtrack. This robotic aspect of Infinite Lives combines with pulsating rhythms and drone like soundscapes to present an engaging and enthralling 45 minute sonic art installation.
To the back of the stage is a large screen on which images and videos are projected and this works in tandem with the animatronic aspect of the performance. At one point we are taken to a virtual environment in which a CG character talks directly to the audience and further emphasises the spoken word element of Infinite Lives. The projections and videos also add to the anxiety and paranoia that is being presented in this visual art and music experiment. The show takes the audience on a visual and audio journey where science and machines paint a desolate and uninviting picture. Other than being a linear story we can given a series of abstract images and invited to draw our conclusions on the nature of the show.
Infinite Lives comes to a dramatic close in a bizarre and engaging method. A separate section of the stage area is highlighted and the audience witnesses further animatronic experimentation. Small probes prod and manipulate what looks like to a be a plate of meat. The result is a dynamic and curious method to create noise in a visually stunning way. It is like watching a live body horror film and the effect is a stunning ending to a unique and thoroughly original show.
The Sonica festival continues until 5 November 2017 and presents many more engaging and original performances at Tramway and other venues across Glasgow. Highlights include Dear Esther Live, Struggle & Emerge and Robbie Thomson’s XFRMR.