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6 December 2012

Robin Fox at Sonica

Robin Fox's <em>Laser Show</em> at Sonica Image: Robin Fox's Laser Show at Sonica  
© Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Sophie Travers reports from Glasgow's Sonica Festival, where Robin Fox has recently completed a residency.

I travelled to Glasgow's Sonica Festival in October, to support Melbourne-based composer and sound artist Robin Fox as the inaugural Australian artist in residence in what I hope will become an ongoing partnership with Sonica.

I'm based in Brussels as director of the IETM - Australia Council for the Arts Collaboration Project, and my job is to create opportunities for Australian performing artists to engage with European partners. The chance to work with Cryptic, one of Scotland's most garlanded and consistently innovative music organisations, came up early in my two-year tenure in this role.

Knowing Cryptic as creators of music theatre, I was excited to engage with their shift in focus into becoming producers of a wide range of sound art. I was keen to see Australians engage with their excellent international networks and know-how. In dialogue with Cryptic's artistic director Cathie Boyd, executive producer Claire Moran, and a network of peers in Australia, we came up with a long list of artists all deeply engaged in 'sonic art for the visually minded' (as the festival slogan goes).

Robin Fox's research into composition with lasers seemed peculiarly attuned to the festival's engagement with new methodologies for visualising sound. Dialogue confirmed that a research residency would be an ideal method for Robin to further his explorations. Without any pressure to present, it quickly became clear that Robin's work begged to be shown, and Cryptic programmed Laser Show for the festival's closing party.

Cryptic's strong relationships with presenters across Glasgow enabled them to find the ideal venue for Robin. With complete blackout a requirement, the semi-renovated arts space, the Glue Factory, accommodated Robin for his research, two well-attended workshops, (the second scheduled by popular demand), and the final sell-out show.

I worked with Cryptic and Robin to communicate widely about this opportunity and we were delighted to attract presenters from the Netherlands, France, Scotland and England. The project also offered a platform to engage with presenters in other countries who could not attend but watched the new festival closely, especially in light of the connections to the established Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, whose director, Graham McKenzie, is a co-director of Sonica along with Patrick Dickie of Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Between them, the curators of Sonica have a wealth of experience in contemporary music and engage with partners across Europe.

Whilst in Glasgow, Robin engaged with the other international artists in the program, sharing a flat with Korean Mookyoung Shin and attending the Dutch production, Bluebeard by 33 1/3 Collective. Like me, he also visited the many presentations and installations in the program at Centre for Contemporary Art, Scotland Street School, Tramway, the Whisky Bond and the Scottish Music Centre. We both met with and saw the work of many of the local artists with whom Cryptic is engaged in a mentoring and promoting relationship, including Sven Warner, Claudia Molitor and Robbie Thomson.

Sonica is an exciting new festival that is certain to continue to evolve. This first engagement with an Australian artist was a positive experience for all and I hope that many Australians will be inspired by an engagement with Sonica in future editions.

Further links

Robin Fox (http://robinfox.com.au/)
Robin Fox - Laser Show (http://robinfox.com.au/projects/laser/)
IETM - Australia Council for the Arts Collaboration Project (Australia Council website)
Sonica - festival website
Cryptic production house (www.cryptic.org.uk)

Subjects discussed by this article:

Sophie Travers is the Brussels-based director of the IETM Australia Council Collaboration Project.


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