Collaboration is one of the keys to creating interesting, immersive art. This much has been made clear over centuries of artists coming together to share their styles with each other to enrich both their own and the other’s work. Within the boundaries of one art form, this already leaves a noticeable impact; now imagine how much more potent this effect can become when artists from different mediums collaborate in a multinational exchange of thoughts and inspirations!
Today’s premiere is one such example. An Abyss is, in its creators’ own words, ‘an immersive sound and dance piece‘, brought forth by dancers/choreographers Sophie Vergères from Switzerland and David Lagerqvist from Sweden in tandem with composer/sound designer Philipp Rumsch from Germany. This interdisciplinary trio set out to weave Rumsch’s research about the societal and environmental effects of the current socio-political crises into a palpable, recognizable work of art.
As far as the concept goes, the full-length version of An Abyss (premiered on September 30 and October 1, 2023 at ZiMMT Leipzig) bridges the gap between the concert experience, a dance performance, and sound installation art. The contextual inspirations are expressed through a series of movements, sounds, and images meant to depict ‘dramatic states of repetition, chaos, fatigue and powerlessness but also their opposing forces.‘ This was realized within a unique 3D audio set-up including 36 speakers, where sound and movement directly influenced each other, fully intertwining to further the overall experience.
Admittedly, this all sounds very heady; a more direct mode of interaction would surely elucidate the concept much better. Well, look no further than the video below! Listen on headphones for the full, immersive 3D experience.
To me personally, this project is quite striking, both visually and musically. Not only does the combination of dance, music, camera work, and lighting draw out a particular mood, but they all seem to bounce off each other to enhance the individual quality of each element. The image is slightly blurred, with various colors of light being employed throughout the piece; this gives the dancers an almost otherworldly sheen, which feeds into their unpredictable, at times uncanny patterns of movement. In turn, the sparse electronica of the soundtrack feels futuristic but thoroughly charged with emotional content – especially when it gives way to the vocal passages, which feel warm but withdrawn.
All parts of An Abyss stimulate each other, emphasizing the artists’ claim to immersion. Rumsch, Vergères, and Lagerqvist have created a striking piece of interdisciplinary art; in turn, it is strikingly captured by Benjamin Büttner, Philipp Rauschendorf, and Jacob Miseler. You could almost strike up a diagram with which to analyze An Abyss for the interactive potential generated between the three poles of music, dance, and cinematography – or, if you prefer to interact with art through your heart rather than your mind, simply submerse yourself in this stunning display of creativity. And remember: this was but a mere snapshot of the piece. The full-length version would most certainly inspire even bigger reactions.
Plans are being made to bring this audio-visual project to the stage for a tour in 2024 and 2025; similarly, Rumsch is currently working on an album version of the full-length An Abyss experience in Dolby Atmos to bring the full scope of its soundtrack into your home. This is one of the most unique works I’ve had the pleasure to interact with in a while, so I am definitely looking forward to future opportunities of immersing myself in it. A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved for entrusting us with the premiere of this piece.
Be sure to have a look at the websites and social media presences of the three artists below, and check out label nynode intermedia on Instagram!