Commissioned by Cryptic as part of Sonica 2018 and the Mackintosh 150 year celebrations, Visaurihelix is an immersive, interactive audiovisual installation based on the geometric forms and proportions prevalent in so much of Mackintosh’s architecture, including the Mackintosh Tower, Scotland Street School, House for an Art Lover and The Hill House. The work consists of three constituent parts: a 30-minute, 6.1 audiovisual composition played on speakers spread throughout the Mackintosh tower, the visual representation of that composition on a custom built, octagonal construction positioned at the base of the tower, and an interactive sonic element consisting of bowed and struck copper rods connected between levels of the staircase.
I’ve been fascinated with Mackintosh architecture and design since I was a child; I love the way he combined quite sharp, geometric shapes with more fluid, organic forms, and the way these worked together to create a truly distinctive, unique and totally recognizable style. In my own work, I work extensively with simple, usually geometric visual forms, utilizing these in hundreds of subtle repetitions to create more fluid and complex visual environments, and combining these with both recorded and synthesized sound materials to create audiovisual relationships; so I’m interested in combining geometric and organic forms, both sonically and visually. One of the things I’ve been pursuing recently is the notion of creating works for Expanded Audiovisual Formats (EAFs), which are works that seek to step away from the ubiquitous ‘single-screen, stereo-speaker’ format we’re so used to consuming audiovisual pieces in; instead, I’ve been thinking about designing immersive, audiovisual responses to unique architectural spaces – and this project is the perfect way of doing that!
The work is an immersive, hypnotic and almost meditative experience that will send the audience on a journey around Mackintosh spaces across Glasgow and further afield, whilst also rooting them very strongly in the acoustic and visual environment of the tower itself. The piece will alter as you move up the tower; the visuals in the base moving further away, as though you were looking at them down a wishing well, while different sonic environments come in and out of focus as you move through the speakers positioned up the tower and play the copper rods that are strung across the staircase. It is a unique experience that can only exist in this specific architectural space.