Photo by Ambra Vernuccio
Within the confines of the Barbican’s Milton Hall, a lucky few were transported to another icy dimension last week as Dasha Rush presented her audio visual project, Antarctic Takt. Having been previously showcased at Berlin’s Atonal Festival and Montreal’s MUTEK Festival, this collaboration with videographer Stanislav Glaszov was the AV show’s UK debut.
Estela Oliva, curator of the evening, explains that “In Antarctic Takt, the artists connect the audience with the vast natural landscapes of the frozen continent to create a show in which art, technology and nature come together in a mesmerising way.” As the performance begins, a 3D rendering of Dasha’s face explains that she chose to explore the desolate continent in order to weave a world of personal escape from the evils of mankind. The visuals begin to tumble into the molecular tessellations of a crystalline snowflake, as shimmering low-tempo beats play. The repetition is comforting.
Meandering around empty environments, it felt reminiscent of Kode9’s recent AV show “Notel” where the viewer explored an abandoned hyper-automated hotel of the future. However, there is no trace of civilisation here. The delicate purity is unsullied. While we use the space to forget the wrongs of humankind, it only succeeds in highlighting our shortcomings.
When the most powerful people on the planet continue to disregard the effects of climate change, the fate of places like Antarctica continue to be threatened. As Estela explains, “I believe it is necessary to reflect on the role we play in protecting sacred natural spaces and assume responsibility for the destruction of the planet by human cause. By facilitating these types of immersive shows, people might find a more suitable space to reflect on these topics, aside from their everyday lives.” Perhaps if we all had a chance to witness Antarctica’s beauty first-hand, we would all take the time to reflect and make peace with ourselves and those around us. For now, Dasha’s synthetic realisation is a haunting halfway step.