Friday, 26 September 2008

In the Compound with Naut Humon and Li Alin

Spent the last few hours in San Francisco down by the water’s desolate edge, near Candlestick Park, to visit Recombinant Media Labs’s new temporary home at ‘the Compound’, a building in an industrial park where Naut Humon , doyen of the city’s emergent Industrial performance scene, once ran regular nights of sensory overload. ‘The double doors used to be flung open,’ he recalled, pointing at the Compound’s tall entrance, ‘and the audience would be greeted by smoke and lights and noise pouring out of it.’ The cops, it seems, rarely bothered to come out here – and still don’t, if the chain link fencing, fly tipping and scavenging are anything to go by.

The Compound is now providing a temporary home for Recombinant Media Labs: a high definition multi-channel audiovisual system known as ‘Surround Traffic Control’. Featuring ten large video projection screens arranged to form a full 360-degree aspect, this enclosed performance space is also equipped with an awesome 16.8.2 horizontal and vertical sound diffusion system, capable of earthshaking volume levels, but with the lightest and subtlest of response. Flexible enough offer any number of playback possibilities, RML’s capabilities can also be scaled up or down to fit all types of rectangular space, thereby offering access ‘processes that expand the aesthetic and technological boundaries of panoramic installation, surround cinema, and immersive a/v performance'. Artists who have already worked with RML include Morton Subotnick, Biosphere, Ryoichi Kurokawa, Pole and Semiconductor.

Naut is currently working with singer and artist Li Alin on developing a touring version of the RML, which should be visiting Europe in the next four or five months. They are also developing a repertoire of songs as Careen Ajar – I heard a rough live mix of one played back over the RML’s impressive sound system and it has a physicality to it you won’t want to miss.

From nights of aggressive splendour at the Compound to the RML, Naut Humon has continued to explore the senses, not so much as individual conduits to experience, but as a unified field of merged effects. You longer see with your eyes and hear with your ears in the depths of RML’s playback facilities: you perceive with your whole body.

Pictured from the top down: Naut Humon and Li Alin at the RML desk, KH feeling out the space, and outside the Compound with Naut and Li, giving us an elegant impression of what 21st Century trailer trash should really look like.

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