By Vivienne Chester

In a cosy room at loop studios (lit primarily by the light of a single lamp), six west Australian artists presented the audience with a unique artistic experience.

Fixed Matter brought together the auditory and visual in a stunning clash of contemporary aesthetics and cultural experience. The project brought together three musicians and three videographers, each with a vision for their final pieces. The creation process was guided by the desire to highlight the importance of self-expression in tackling mental health issues (which is one of the main aims of the projects’ sponsor- Propel). Introspection and exploring the self were themes that I found evident in each piece. Each artist involved in this project is an up-and-coming young artist performing original compositions. Videos were produced by Cass Evans-Ocharern, Bailey Hamilton and Sethen Sheehan-Lee.

Gabby Lee performed two pieces, both deeply emotive. Her first piece, played on the Marimba, was beautifully melancholy and very technically involved. It embodies a boat floating in a Floridian harbour with the rhythm possesing a wave-like quality, lulling the audience into a dream state. Sharp metallic notes break this spell and prevent this performance from becoming too laconic.

Her second piece- titled ‘My Hakka Grandma’, utilised rice bowls and various metallic surfaces (including her Marimba) in a culturally contemporary and deeply personal story. I found this piece particularly moving and relevant to the projects’ aims of self-exploration and expression.

Naoko Uemoto’s beautiful saxophone improvisation was accompanied by a piece written for her by her friend Victor Arul, complete with a haunting monochromatic video compilation which enhanced the emotive abilities of the piece. Starting in what I would call an experimental jazz area, this piece moves forward into an almost frenzied dubstep sequence toward the latter half. Naoko labelled this foreign territory, and though I would agree, I would also say that it’s a land we should consider visiting more often- it was delightful.

Bob Tweedie’s piano piece was a beautiful sonic expression of personality. Though technically intricate and largely improvised, Bob gave the impression that this composition flowed easily from his fingertips. There was no accompanying video for this performance, a choice which served to highlight the work of Bob himself. The audience focuses on the young musician and recognises the full extent of his skill.

His second piece was accompanied by visual material, a kaleidoscopic psychedelic trip, which matched Bob’s playing perfectly. Looping himself during the performance created a multi-focal depth that mirrors the video’s double exposure. This piece was slow and contemplative.

It feels odd to be evaluating a performance whose goal was to help artists navigate the self in the reflection of public perception; however, I will say this: these pieces, although very enjoyable to watch and listen to, evidently came from a place of exploration, and reflection, as well as experimentation. Watching each piece was, what I imagine, jumping into another person’s brain would be like- strange but also beautiful.

I love contemporary work which explores the possibilities of interdisciplinary collaboration. WAYJO and Propel Youth usually come up with the goods. If they’re sponsoring a show, you’re sure to get something fresh and innovative. Creating a platform for young musicians is a topic near and dear to my heart, and I can honestly say that this performance exceeded my (high) expectations. Keep your eye open for any upcoming performances. I promise you’ll enjoy the experience.

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