He's already used sewing machines and 8mm cameras—now, Montreal-based new media artist Martin Messier is back with a new performance which uses more unexpected objects as his sound and light-creating tools. Unleashing a strong audiovisual experience within the confines of the Theatre Maisonneuve in Downtown Montreal, last weekend Messier treated the audience of the 16th edition of MUTEK festival to his first presentation of FIELD, a brand new project unfolding over time, experimentation after experimentation. "In this new performance, I have tried a lot of different things," Messier tells The Creators Project. "Instead of focusing on just one idea, I have tried to create multiple variations on sound, light and space in this case using two connection panels," he explains.
While the central concept of the project could be defined as the capture, manipulation, and visualization of electromagnetic fields, the Quebec artist even translates some of these intangible forces into an experimental soundtrack that runs alongside its stunning interplay of light and shadow. With the help of a microphone that features electromagnetic transducers, he captures residual electrical signals that are imperceptible to the human ear, and uses them as a driving force for the performance.
To and fro on the stage, in movements that are worthy of concert maestros, plugging and unplugging cables between two panels with multiple connections—which offer him infinite creative possibilities—he presents a spontaneous and original process of creation, set to the sounds of a deconstructed, rhythmic electrical sound. In lockstep, an interplay of light and shadow creeps up on the giant screen of the theatre whose scale, synchronized with the sonic intensity, seems to evolve during the show. After a few minutes, the audience finds itself plunged into darkness, while wires start illuminating and twinkling wildly on the stage. To close the performance, he slides a violin bow across live wires. Ultimately, with this hybrid work, Messier turns a flux that is at once inaudible and invisible into something physical, thus questioning the dichotomy between the material and the immaterial.
We were at the theatre on night of FIELD's premiere—here's what we saw:
Martin Messier: concept, audiovisual composition, programming and performance
Interface: Thomas Payette
Technical design: Thomas Payette, Maxime Bouchard, Frédérique Folly
Production: 14 lieux