Calgarians wowed by audio and visual splendor

 It’s almost as if you could see the music.

Visual technology and music met at the third annual Soundasaurus Festival of Multimedia Sound Arts this past weekend at the Engineered Air Theatre at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts, providing Calgarians with an artistic experience aiming to please both sense of sight and sound.

Sculpture, a duo from London, was the headlining act on Friday and was described on Epcor’s website as an act manipulating various forms of digital and analog into visual amalgams as their improvisational form of sound.

For those who aren’t music or art savvy, it might be a little difficult to understand what that means.

It may be because you would have to experience it to understand it.

Although you can pick up a band’s album and get to know their music quite well without ever seeing them live, the same cannot be said for the performances that took place Thursday through Saturday.

Ryan Eliason, a local musician who attended the festival for the first time on Friday, agreed that seeing the musicians’ work added to the overall experience.

“Something I like about watching those guys on stage is that they have albums out but they’re at that stage where they’re just finding everything out,” Eliason said, speaking specifically of local group The Octopus Vulgaris, whose frenetic visuals were in-sync with their sound. “You can tell on stage that they’re surprising themselves with what they’re doing.”

The auditory and visual experiences created an effect that allowed the audience to become completely immersed in the show. Reuben Sutherland (left), provides the hypnotic visuals, and Dan Hayhurst (right) supplies the ambient audio to create the performance that is Sculpture at Soundasaurus Festival.
Photo by: Lindsay Douglas

From the Sculpture duo, Dan Hayhurst played audio while Reuben Sutherland was spinning vinyl that had illustrations worked into them. This created a kaleidoscopic visual which was projected onto a screen behind them, set along to the music.

Another first-time attendee, Kim Anderson, described the show as, “Engaging. There are a lot of unexpected things just because there are so many visuals and sounds. You never know what’s going to happen next.

“It’s totally absorbing. You just get into the zone. It’s hypnotic.”

After Sculpture finished their set on Friday, they took a few minutes after to answer questions from the crowd.

The first came from a man who asked rather simply, “What’s going on here?” This got some laughter from the crowd.

“A lot of the time,” Hayhurst answered with a smile, “I don’t really know.”

The sheer variety and number of artists means that it’ll be hard to come by two acts that are similar.

“Every night is packed full,” said Tammy McGrath, visual and media arts programmer for Soundasaurus. “It’s exciting because all the pieces are quite diverse, so we never get anything twice over the festival.”

The festival is an exciting event for the arts community; a scene that Anderson says is improving.

“It’s getting better and better,” Anderson said. “I think more and more, obscure art in Calgary is getting some light so that’s very positive.”

Soundasaurus will be moving their festival to November for this year onward, so Calgarians can experience unique artists twice in 2012,  McGrath said.

ldouglas@cjournal.ca