Note: This review is from the 2017 Fringe

Robbie Thomson is a Glasgow based visual artist who experiments with sound, sculpture, installations and projections. In 2013 he presented a kinetic sculpture at Summerhall called Ecstatic Arc. This year his latest work XFRMR is at the Volcano venue in Leith and presents a unique take on performance and music.

XFRMR is a multimedia performance installation that uses a Tesla Coil (a 19th century device that makes electricity visible), projections, motion graphics, sound and music. The Tesla Coil sits in a metal cage to the centre of the stage. It is a small metallic like object with a dome shaped head. On top of this dome, two antennas curiously jut out. It is an alien like device with it’s own characteristics and personality.

The show benefits from being presented as a performance. If displayed in a gallery space the audience could come and go as they please, walk around and view the work from various angles. XFRMR invites the audience to sit and pay attention and experience the work as a show. We are presented with an event that has a beginning, a middle and an end. The tesla coil dictates the pace of the performance and the audience is transfixed. Bold and aggressive lightning bolts spark from the top of the device, meanwhile projections light up the back of the venue (which is an old church down in the heart of leith). These projections give the Tesla Coil life. They are almost like probes that an alien being is using to catalogue it’s surroundings and to understand the the baron location that it finds itself in.

The music is also bold and aggressive and works in tandem with the sparks from the device. XFRMR is truly a unique event. It stands out from other shows at the Edinburgh Fringe as it is atypical, ambitious and distinctive in it’s approach. XFRMR is presented in partnership with Cryptic. This is a Glasgow based organisation that champions work that combines performance and sound. As well as XFRMR they have an exhibition on at the Institut Francais d’Ecosse as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. Here Heather Lander’s Nearer Future further showcases how engaging installations can present music and visual art in new and exciting ways and is a perfect companion piece to Robbie Thomson’s fantastic and original work.