Cryptic is a Glasgow-based internationally renowned art house which presents and promotes innovative sonic, performance and multimedia artworks. Launching Cryptic Nights in 2009, it has supported renowned artists such as Rachel MacLean, who recently presented work at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017). As well as supporting what have become big household names, Cryptic also supports local and emerging experimental talent.
This year, for its 25th anniversary, Cryptic presented an immersive double bill at The Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). Composed of two distinct artistic projects; one presented by Glasgow’s own Kin, an artist working across sound, installation and moving image and the other by Silent Chaos, an audiovisual collaboration which originated in Rome.
Centring on themes of surveillance and technology, Watchtower and Origins were artworks which subsumed and immersed the viewer, according and in line with Cryptic Night’s endeavour to ‘ravish the senses’. Although adopting disparate methodologies to do so, both works mesmerise and heighten the senses. The event is introduced firstly by Kin’s Watchtower, an absorbing installation composed of a lighthouse structure, lit up in colourful changing hues; alongside five speakers littered throughout the room, and a projected film.
The film consists of a variety of imagery, dominated by the recurring image of oceanic water, which the drone camera traverses fluidly. Seagulls are captured flying across the sky, 3D rendered shapes appear, fixed horizons, flashes of text and a lighthouse fixed at the edge of the cliff. The film articulates the language of the internet. Fast paced and constantly moving; encouraging short attention spans and the consumption of imagery; all the while surveyed and charted through data and mass corporations. Coupled with the intensity of sound which vibrates through the room and the viewers’ body, the viewer becomes acutely aware of the lighthouse metaphor; observing all from above like Big Brother.
Silent Chaos’ Origins adopts an entirely different approach to the exploration of technology in our lives. The performance is composed of a symphony of drone music, drum beats and glitching visuals depicting ancient bodily archetypes. It creates a meditative soundscape which hums through the room in which the audience is seated. Sonically distorted breath blurs into the rhythmic drum and is juxtaposed by the flashing blue and red imagery highlighted and projected in the background. The projected images bring to mind Venus fertility figurines, bringing the viewer into an awareness of history and temporal passing.
The experimental nature of Silent Chaos’ AV make up forces the viewer to observe and question our relationship to technology; how it dominates so many of our lives and how it has enabled a disconnect with the natural world.
Cryptic Nights presented Watchtower and Origins at CCA 7 March 2019