Amsterdam Dance Event: Science and Nature collide in spectacular audio-visual livestream

Whilst the first lockdown of March 2020 presented us with a whole host of limitations and inconveniences, one of the key silver linings that many people identified after the initial shock was the opportunity for reflection. With the unrelenting turbulence of modern life temporarily subdued, the abrupt, sobering pause that followed provided the nation with an opportunity to take a deep breath, and recalibrate. With the industrial world at a standstill, we saw nature begin to flourish once again, and we had more than enough time to watch and appreciate it. With all the good weather, and outdoor activity being the only means of social interaction we had, we found ourselves inevitably closer to the natural world than ever before.

As we enter into our second lockdown, the winter months are likely to see us confined to our homes for long periods of time, but this time without the solace of the outdoors to soften the blow. However, that shouldn’t detract from this opportunity to reflect once again. Although indoors, there are plenty of ways to remain mindful, and to reconnect with the natural world through art.

Towards the end of last month, Amsterdam Dance Event hosted its 25th edition at Nxt museum. With the aim of providing a platform to artists during the pandemic, the event showcases a variety of audio-visual spectacles, and livestreams them worldwide. One particular performance, from artists Boris Acket and Vincent Rang, instantly embodied these ideas of reflection and nature, and offered a peaceful, contemplative hour of blissful soundscapes and intricate, kaleidoscopic visuals to be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.

The Nxt stage that was used for this performance consists of a 370 square metre surface upon which visuals can be projected. In the centre of this platform is a table upon which the duo are set up. On one side is a sprawling mass of musical production equipment, and on the other is an illuminated aquarium. As hypnotic rhythms begin, it becomes apparent that the contents of the aquarium are being filmed, and beamed directly onto the vast projection surface around them. Throughout the next hour, this aquarium plays host to a series of chemical reactions that create complex, gradually evolving visual patterns. When beamed up to the size of the entire stage, these glistening formations resemble off-world organic landscapes. 

Describing his creative process, Rang said: ‘As an artist, I observe, capture and re-arrange these various dances of life, from wind patterns, water currents, blooming flowers, landscapes and rock formations, to create abstract audio-visual experiences, which offer the viewer enough space to find their own truth and interpretation in the work, and most importantly, to feel them.’

This hour long spectacle allows more than enough space to do exactly that; to relax and reflect on the relationship between art and the natural world. The visuals encourage us to listen to the music through a different lens, and to perceive the sound as being natural and organic. With stuttering, irregular percussion layers and echoing harmonic tones, the music, in places, seems to imitate and combine with nature, and become untameable and organic. This is what is so mesmerising about this performance, as you often almost forget that you’re listening to music, until a steady recognisable element of man-made dance music tiptoes back into the mix, like a subtle hi hat or reassuring snare. 

Whilst we are encouraged to perceive the man-made as natural through the audio, the inverse is true for the visuals. Although we are witnessing natural chemical processes occurring before us, you can be forgiven for forgetting this, as often the spiralling crystalline vortex before you appears deliberate and artistic.

This performance is in fact a prequel to the duo’s upcoming audio-visual album, Home. Although a live stream, this performance is still available to watch below, allowing you to drift away to a dreamy realm for a while as the winter lockdown sets in.