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Whalesong by Xvelastin at the Alphabetti Theatre
Sound artist, technologist and theatre sound designer xvelastín presents his latest live performance: a human-computer duet about the sound of the seas. [whalesong] is a blend of experimental gig, electroacoustic concert, immersive sound installation and performance art, coming to Alphabetti Theatre in person and online as part of the Newcastle Fringe Festival in August.
Whales have been silenced by humans throughout history – through hunting, chemical pollution and increasingly loud oceans. We share a common ancestry, but we have stopped listening to them. [whalesong] is a response to our destructive relationship with the natural world, using specially-designed sound and motion capture technology to celebrate the voices in the sea. Instead of using conventional instruments, xvelastín manipulates his voice and body in real-time using an extensive array of microphones, hacked gaming controllers, wearables, spectral splicers and dynamic loopers to create a rich and ever-changing oceanic soundscape. At its core is an artificial intelligence system that mimics the fluid structure of baleen whale’s calls by reacting to, learning from and changing his voice and movement to perform in concert with him: making each moment fundamentally and necessarily unique. With a soundworld ranging from the battering noise of seismic airguns to the tranquility of the abyssal plain, [whalesong] provides audiences with a sorely-missed envelopment in sound.
xvelastín says: “[whalesong] is best described as a carnival of listening – it’s a celebration of sound, of cognition, of water. Whales are tantalisingly both so similar and so different to humans in how they make sense of the world, and yet we use their songs as soundtracks to meditation videos while we still don’t really know what they’re saying. It makes them a great example of how humanity distorts and disrupts the natural world to suit ourselves. By taking inspiration from the structure of their songs, rather than using a recording of the sounds themselves, I’m attempting to find a new way to understand them, and in doing so, move humanity towards peaceful coexistance with the rest of the world.”
[whalesong]’s wide range of influences include Blue Planet, Holly Herndon’s Proto, Björk’s Biophilia, and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis. Throw in a dose of absurdist humour and you have a post-digital, post-human sound performance that hates plastic and loves blowholes.
Alphabetti Theatre, St James’ Blvd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4HP.
Dates and Times Info
3rd August 2021 at 7.30pm
Pay What You Feel (Booking Essential)
Listings & Ticket Link