Molecular, cellular and cosmic space collide in Laniakea

14 Sep 2019

Molecular, cellular and cosmic space collide in Laniakea

Laniakea is one of the 12 projects that are receiving funding and support from our Creative Development Program. Dr Corrina Bonshek, composer (and co-imagineer) of this project with Daniel Belton of Good Company Arts have brought together collaborators from Australia, NZ and Taiwan to create an immersive music and visual experience.

Laniakea (Lani-a-kea) – Hawaiian for immeasurable heavens – celebrates the connection between the human and the stars, the intimate and the infinite. Film will meet live music and surround sound in this synaesthetic live performance where simultaneous live and processed versions of Pipa and Percussion music overlap in an aural evocation of our expanding galaxy. You’ll watch human figures journey through superclusters of deep space, evoking ancient and ancestral narratives.

The synaesthetic live performance will feature charismatic Pipa virtuoso Jasmine Chen from Taiwan and iconic Australian percussionist Dr Michael Askill with digital film by Arts Laureate Daniel Belton & Good Company Arts, with original music by Dr Corrina Bonshek and collaborators.

Dr Corrina Bonshek told us about the inspiration behind this work:

The idea came when a friend Chloé de Buyl-Pisco showed me a video of digital mapping of our region of space – Lanaiakea supercluster of galaxies of which our galaxy (the Milky Way) is one small part. This image did something to my brain. It made me think of expanding and contracting lines of music, unfolding with their own momentum. When I saw the image, I heard music.

‘The concept for the work, and initial inspiration, really seemed to warrant a visual narrative. Daniel Belton of Good Company Arts, who is a co-imagineer of Laniakea, is making a beautiful digital film that expresses a real human connection to the cosmos,’ she said.

The collaborative nature of this project brought many challenges.

‘One challenge has been communication when our team lives in different countries (Australia – Taiwan – New Zealand) and all have very busy schedules. This work has developed through quite intense burst with team interaction, and then gaps when we wait for schedule alignment!

‘A really exciting aspect of this collaboration for me personally, has been embracing a more open composing approach. Rather than writing every detail down, I’ve been making frames/prompts for improvisation for our two musicians (Michael Askill and Jasmine Chen). This really invites the personality of the performer into the work and means that the musical timing can be easily adapted to respond to visuals. I’ve enjoyed our bursts of experimenting together, recording, editing, and I’m excited to be working with Anna Whitaker, a talented sound designer and composer in her own right, who is mixing all audio, adding effects and experimenting with how to position the different musical layers so that they feel like they are all around the audience or are moving. I love hearing sounds moving around as if they are bodies in space,’ she continued.

Daniel is also enthusiastic about this collaboration.

‘There’s been a real creative spark between artists in this project. We’ve brought ideas from our respective places of origin and culture, we raised these to a new blank canvas together. We are respectfully drawn to something that is original about each other, and this curiosity has immense energy for discovery, and for co-creation,’ he said.

Corrina is grateful for the support from the Creative Development Program.

‘(The Creative Development Program) provided space and resources for six of our team to come together in the same room, try out sound-image combinations, feel out the balance/density of sounds and images events over time, and string together those goose-bump inducing moments that make a work really hum. We did a first exploratory stage of development in 2018 with the support of Creative NZ and Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. This stage of development at HOTA is crucial to finishing this work.’

And the team are looking forward to the industry showing at the end of September.

‘Having a showing is so valuable. It allows us to get feedback from an audience of knowledgeable arts-lovers. It’s a litmus test for finding out if our vision has been communicated, and way to identify things to change/improve on before we premiere this work in 2020,’ she said.

This project has been supported by HOTA Home of Arts and City of Gold Coast through HOTA’s Creative Development Program.

You can read more about the Creative Development Program here.