The Poetics of Space Festival, Amsterdam

1 March 2010

The Poetics of Space Festival, 25- 28 February – Spatial explorations into art, science, music and technology

Sonic Acts The Poetics of Space is entirely dedicated to the exploration of space in performative and audiovisual art, film, music and architecture. It examines the importance of physical space in times of far-reaching technological developments, and the physical and psychological impact of spatial designs.

The programme comprises four densely filled days and nights and will provide an extensive overview of recent works and experiments – spatial audio compositions, audiovisual installations and performances – and includes relevant historical examples and utopian ideals and dreams from the twentieth century. For further information please click on the link

During the three and a half days in Amsterdam for the Poetics of Space Festival, the main events that really stuck in my mind was the live multi- channel electroacoustic concert by Haswell & Hecker, entitled “UPIC Diffusion Session #22” and Duncan Speakman’s sound walk ‘as if it were the last time’.

The first night of live performances and film screenings took place at Paradiso, a rock music venue and cultural centre. The five hour event “Deep Spaces”, included Haswell & Hecker’s “UPIC Diffusion Session #22” for surround sound and laser lights, which utilized Iannis Xenakis’ graphic input computer music system, UPIC.

Paradiso was completely rammed full of visitors, a surprising and refreshing change to the small gatherings produced by audio visual events in the East Midlands.  We took our seats on the balcony, it didn’t seem like the ideal position to appreciate the concert, but as the performance developed from minimal subtlety, we were completely transfixed. With stunning laser lighting, bathing us in a vibrant and intense light, accompanied by piercing, throbbing tones, this truly was a superb immersive experience, that left us with our ears ringing and our eyes aching.

Below is a section of a review written by Trace Reddell, University of Denver for Leonardo reviews online, for the Poetics of Space festival.  The section below was written in relation to her experience of Haswell & Hecker’s concert.

The performance still powerfully evoked strange spaces that struck me as “retro-futuristic”:  wire-frame crafts emitting search beams and warning claxons as it scanned the world it discovered or invaded, dive-bombing aircraft suffering from engine-failure followed by an aggressive battery of laser cannon fire directed into the theater, the directionality then reversed so that the viewer seemed drawn forward into a domain of old-school, wormhole visual effects.

Official Haswell & Hecker blog:

View photos and video from “UPIC Diffusion Session #22”:

View video from “UPIC Diffusion Session #22”:

Haswell and Hecker's concert at Paradiso
Haswell and Hecker's stunning “UPIC Diffusion Session #22” at Paradiso, Amsterdam

Duncan Speakman’s sound walk; ‘as if it were the last time’ was a wonderful immersive group experience, ‘a chance to savour the world you live in, and to see it with fresh eyes.’

Me and my friend Owen left the conference early to get to the secret location before 6pm, we could see other people following and a large group started to form, looking at the clock in the street, we waited for 6pm and then simultaneously pressed play on our mp3 players to listen to the same soundscape.

We stood together in the rain, listening to the narrator, telling us a story and giving us instructions… we looked up at the roof tops, imagined ourselves running across them, stood close to shop windows to look at our reflection in the glass, walked arm in arm, looked at the sky (which made passers by look up too). At one point I was told to separate from Owen and hid around a corner and then had to run back to him and then give him a big hug and dance together- we were in hysterics at the end, both feeling exhausted after such a melody of emotions. This truly was a special and touching experience, one that was delivered individually via stereo headphones, but experienced collectively in a public space. As the write up for the piece suggests, you will ‘find yourself immersed in the cinema of everyday life.’

as if it were the last time
Duncan Speakman's sound walk- as if it were the last time

“Capricious and profound, the experience definitely captures what it is to escape from the world for a little bit…then to return and find that you see things differently.”–The Londonist

Download the sound walk from here:

View a video of the sound walk and participant reactions. Scroll down the page to find the video.

As part of the festival a selection of inspiring and informative conferences were delivered by a selection of key note speakers, many of them practitioners exhibiting and performing as part of the festival.

For more information please click on the links.

Friday 26 February

Saturday 27 February

Sunday 28 February

Lucy Stevens’ artistic practice examines the acoustic ecology of the natural environment, using field recording, digital illustration, performance and printmaking as a tool to visualise sound produced by wildlife, weather and other natural phenomena.

0 comments on “The Poetics of Space Festival, Amsterdam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: