The last exhibition that The Vinyl Factory put on in the Brewer Street car park was the atmospheric multi-screened and pink hued film about the Democratic Republic of Congo by Richard Mosse. Their latest venture is an even more ambitious collaboration between musicians and the artist Conrad Shawcross.
Shawcross delights in re=programming industrial robots to move in a seemingly random manner and by attaching a light bulb to the end of its 'limb' he can create some atmospheric effects in a darkened space - much like he did with his 'Timepiece' at the Roundhouse.
In this project, inspired by the life of mathematician Ada Lovelace, four very different musical acts were challenged to make a composition in response to the movements of the machine. Beatrice Dillon and Rupert Clervaux have created a percussion piece while Tamara Barnett Herrin has written and performed a song to align with the machine. These two acts create quality music but we struggled to link it back to the movements of the machine, and the robot felt superfluous in both these compositions.
The other two acts are more synchronised as Holly Herndon's mechanical sounding electronica is very well suited to the contractions and rotations of the mechanical arm. Our favourite is the mournful operatic score written by Mira Calix and sung by Teresa Duddy where both singer and machine seem to mirror each other's sadness. The sweeping arm of the robot remains low to the ground for most of the performance and therefore it resembles a forlorn animal, perfectly in tune with the composition.
This is an ambitious project and though the intended cohesive thread of the life of Ada Lovelace isn't always evident in this exhibition, it's still an impressive installation with two high quality tracks showing how music, art and technology can come together to create engrossing experiences.
The Vinyl Factory and Conrad Shawcross: The ADA Project is on at Brewer St car park (3rd floor), Brewer St, W1F 0LA until 31 October. Entrance is free. All acts were performed live on the opening night but are now accessible via the push of a button in the exhibition - activating the robot and the accompanying music.
For more great art to see in London, see our October listings.