the TWIST (is that you’re just like me)
The TWIST (is that you’re just like me) is a work made with and for children.
Commissioned by Tramway for their 2018 Children’s Exhibition, The TWIST (is that you’re just like me) began by asking a Primary 2 class at Glendale Primary School “What do liquid crystals sound like?” In asking the children to imagine what this material might sound like, I was asking them the same question any image-sounding practitioner would ask themselves when constructing a new sound-image object.
Liquid crystals are a non-classical state of matter, a material that behaves as both liquid and solid simultaneously. It is a material now central to our relationship with the audiovisual, being the main component in LCD’s, but they are also present in the walls of our cells, as well as in detergents – like bubbles. By twisting their molecules when energy is applied to them, liquid crystals move between both matter states. I am interested not only in considering how we use the behaviours of materials to construct a new sound-image relationship, but in what we can learn about ourselves by observing, and mimicking their behaviours to better understand our own. In thinking about how we might sound images of liquid crystals, we had conversations about our own behaviours, how they are not fixed either, that we twist between parts of our identities.
Working with incredible macro images of liquid crystals kindly provided by Prof. Vance Williams of the Department of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, the children first grew their own crystals in class, to learn about the different pace that this material moves at, to touch them and get closer to knowing them through our haptic senses. We then worked with choreographer and artist Mark Bleakly to behave like these materials with our bodies, moving and dancing in a way that twisted between liquid and crystalline movements. Filmed by Margaret Salmon, we then working on sounding these materials, thinking about the words we would use to describe them and the sounds those words created for us.
The sound and film work was exhibited as an interactive installation, with the help of artist-programmer Jen Sykes, where the audience we invited to undertake the same behaviours as the class, using touch, movement and sound to activate the soundtrack, the film work and fill the space with bubbles.