Laniakea is an invitation to experience a different scale of space and time. Music and projected imagery open onto the cosmos and evoke ancient, ancestral narratives in this synaesthetic, immersive, 40-minute music-digital media live performance featuring Pipa (Chinese Lute) virtuoso Jasmine Chen from Taiwan, and iconic Australian percussionist Dr Michael Askill with digital film by Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts.
Laniakea – Hawaiian for immeasurable heavens – celebrates the connection between humans and the stars, the intimate and the infinite in the super-clusters of deep space. Film projections and live musicians are intertwined through shared imagery that includes the Pipa or Chinese Lute, a trajectory of human figures journeying in space, and active threads of light appear as diagrammatic trajectories of line that suggest molecular, cellular and cosmic space in constant momentum.
Composer Corrina Bonshek electroacoustic score is based on shifting timescales, where multiple versions of Pipa and Percussion music are heard simultaneously at different speeds in aural evocation of the expansion of our galaxy (spatialised by Anna Whitaker). Through deep and ongoing collaboration with Jasmine Chen and Michael Askill, Bonshek gives full expression to the dynamic energy and stillness of Chen’s virtuosic Pipa playing mirrored by Askill’s powerful and sensitive performance on gongs and metallic percussion.
Bonshek envisages the music as a dance of dynamic energy and reverberant stillness, a giant heartbeat that connects the audience to the infinite. She imagines the music as gapped clusters of live and electronically processed sound that will be drawn together and torn apart in an aural evocation of the velocity of stars over time. Before there was matter, there was sound in the form of the big bang. Our universe actually started with a song. What is the sound of the universe singing?
Daniel says: ‘We know that space is charged with energies and contains particles of very real matter. Our relationship to Nature, to natural space, to each other and to the environments we live in are thematics that repeat and recycle in my work. Human beings are standing wave patterns of energy – we are complex harmonics – our bodies seem solid, but from another frequency, we might look like filaments of light transmitting as energy fields. Ultimately our physical bodies are the products of wave actions in space. Space is porous, biomorphic.’ Read more in this Q&A with Belton.
This event is 40-minutes long and can be staged in black-box theatre, an art gallery, or be performed outside with projection-mapped digital film.
Composer | Project concept: Dr Corrina Bonshek (Australia)
Pipa: Jasmine Chen (Taiwan)
Percussion: Michael Askill (Australia)
Sound spatialisation, mixing & effects: Anna Whitaker (Australia)
Sound recording: Anna Whitaker, David Spearrit
Film director & concept: Daniel Belton of Good Company Arts (New Zealand)
Dance | choreography: Janessa Dufty (Australia)
Choreographic process: Daniel Belton & Janessa Dufty
Boomerang: Joseph Skeen Snr
Motion graphics | Star fields-Nebula: Jac Grenfell (New Zealand)
Cinematography | Stills: Daniel Belton
Generative Atmospherics: Patxi Araujo
Film editor | Optical effects: Daniel Belton
Fibro optic rods: Airstrument™
Spatial Design: Stuart Foster
Film producer: Donnine Harrison
Project co-producer: Dr Corrina Bonshek
Special thanks to Joseph Ian Skeen Snr and Family (Paternal: Birri-Gubba, Maternal Kuku-Thapan) for use of his Boomerang in this production, and to Aunty Mary Graham, Yugambeh Elder, for creative and cultural consultation.
Laniakea has been supported by HOTA Home of Arts and City of Gold Coast through HOTA’s Creative Development Program. Its first stage of development was supported by Creative New Zealand and The Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.
Industry showing September 25, Indoors at the Outdoor Space, HOTA Home of the Arts.
Photography by Leximagery
Key Creatives Bios
Jasmine Chen (Pipa Musician/Performer) born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Yu-Rong Chen has forged a career as one of the leading pipa virtuosos of her generation. She completed her master studies at the National Taiwan University of Arts, Department of Music, under the instruction of Prof. Shou-Chou Lai and Ming-Xi Wang. She has toured to Alaska, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and Guangxi, and was honoured as 2015 Young Star of Chinese Music, performing the premiere pipa concerto Yue Fei, The Valor at the Taiwan National Concert Hall. Chen has performed concertos with National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan, Taiwan Chinese Orchestra, Youth Orchestra and Hsinchu City Youth Chinese Orchestra, and these long-standing relationships had enriched her stage experience. Her distinguished charismatic, soulful and richly-hued playing is in high demand.
Michael Askill (PhD – University of Queensland) is a percussionist, composer, musical director, musical ambassador and educator – an icon of Australian music, known and admired for his enduring contribution to the Australian contemporary music landscape and his original blending of Asian and Western Sounds. Before embarking on a successful independent career, he was Principal Timpanist with the Melbourne Symphony and then Principal Percussionist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. His collaboration with one of Australia’s most highly respected choreographers, Graeme Murphy, resulted in a number of ballets including Free Radicals, Salome, Air and Other Invisible Forces for Sydney Dance Company. Michael is Percussionist Specialist at the Queensland Academy – Creative Industries Campus, Lecturer in Percussion at the University of Queensland and was a featured artist at the 2016 Australian Percussion Gathering held at the Queensland Conservatorium where he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Percussive Arts Society.
Corrina Bonshek (Composer/Project Concept/ Co-Producer) is an Australian composer whose music has been described as ‘beautifully shaped and contemplative’ (Clare MacClean, 2013) and ‘connecting to the essence of SE Asian music – timelessness’ (Chinary Ung, 2015). Her practice is diverse from concert music to music-art events to collaborations with traditional instrumentalists from Asia. Corrina was a resident composer at the 2015 Experimental Thai Music Laboratory of Burapha University in Thailand, inaugural visiting scholar of 2016 Nirmita Institute for Young Composers in Cambodia, and composed music for Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra for 2017 Taipei International Arts Festival. Her reworking of solo Pipa piece for American ensemble All of the Above was a finalist in 2018 Australian Art Music Awards – Instrumental Work of the Year category. She recently composed the 90-minute orchestral installation Song to the Earth for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Arts & Culture Festival.
Daniel Belton – Good Company Arts (Film Artist/Choreographer/Designer/Cameras/Co- Producer) originates from a visual arts and contemporary dance background. He is a scholarship graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance. Daniel performed extensively in New Zealand and Europe during the 1990’s including with Douglas Wright Dance Company, Kim Brandstrup and Arc Dance Company, Irek Mukhamedov, Lindsay Kemp Company, Compania Vicente Saez, Aletta Collins Dance Company, Tanz Company Gervasi, Royal Opera Covent Garden, and Glyndebourne. Daniel has established an international reputation for his choreography and film. His visionary projects for dance, theatre, opera, cinema, galleries, building facades and digital spaces have made selection to many international arts festivals – receiving finalist nominations and awards. Daniel has directed over 44 projects with Donnine Harrison since the foundation of Good Company Arts. As an independent artist he has been commissioned by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Black Grace Dance Company, New Zealand School of Dance, Body Festival, Filmaka USA, Channel4 UKTV, Dance Films Association New York, Genius Loci WeimarVideo Mapping Festival, Zentrum Paul Klee, CINEDANS, Museo deArte Moderno de BuenosAires, Attakkalari India Biennial, the Oceanic Performance Biennial, and Aarhus Festival Denmark among others. Continuing to work as a choreographer, performer and pedagogue, Daniel began photographing and editing dance for film from 1997. In 2003 he was awarded New Zealand Arts Council’s first Choreographic Research Residency at Otago University. He was appointed Media Artist in Residence at Massey University in 2008 to continue this research, and in 2010 won the Creative New Zealand Choreographic Fellowship. Invitations for Daniel to teach and present his work have seen him attend and participate in the Prague Quadrennial, Festival Internacional de la Imagen, Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec, Bauhaus University, Ryerson University, Leeds Metropolitan University, Codarts, xm:lab and NOW DanceSaar Festival, Romaeuropa Festival, Millennium Performing Arts London and the World Stage Design Festival. In addition to his lauded career as an independent performing artist, choreographer, producer and arts leader, Daniel is an accomplished trans-media creator with over twenty years experience working in and researching film, cinematography, projection mapping, motion capture, digital post-production, fine art, sound and design. Daniel is an Arts Foundation New Zealand Arts Laureate. https://vimeo.com/dbel