The world’s thunder comes to Salford in a groundbreaking performance merging art and science

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology, School of Science, Engineering and Environment

A world first will take place at the University of Salford during the upcoming Sounds From the Other City Festival on Sunday 5 May.

The Conductor, a performance by Manchester-based artist Mishka Henner channels live lightning data from around the world through a single percussionist beating a drum each time a lightning strike occurs in the world.

Set in a reverb acoustic chamber at the University of Salford, The Conductor is the result of an 18-month artist residency by Henner at the University of Salford's Energy House 2.0, a cutting-edge research facility that simulates extreme global climatic conditions under one roof to help design net zero and carbon neutral housing for the future.

Presented by the artist as the “Energy House Party”, The Conductor promises to be an immersive and unforgettable sonic and physical experience, offering audiences a profound opportunity to contemplate Earth's natural forces and our relationship to them in a new light.

Describing The Conductor, Henner says: “We live in a world haunted by climate change and are connected to distant natural disasters like never before. The Energy House 2.0 project says so much about our generation’s connection to the planet and our desire to live more sustainably. With The Conductor, I’ve tried to find an artistic response that conveys this new and often terrifying relationship we have with our planet. As a species, our experience of thunder and lightning is so primal and has forever been tied to the mysterious powers of nature.”

The performance is made possible thanks to live data available on Blitzortung.org, a remarkable network of 10,000 lightning sensors distributed around the world. As Henner says: “Through Blitzortung, we can literally see planetary and climatic forces at work. The whole planet is a kind of Energy House and our species’ survival depends on our ability to understand and harness these natural forces.”

A graphic score of the performance - whose design is inspired by the work of the scientists at Energy House 2.0 - will be published after the event, allowing future generations of musicians to reinterpret our present-day climate conditions.

Join us for an unforgettable experience that transcends boundaries and resonates with the urgency of our changing world.

Professor Richard Fitton, Director of Energy House Labs, added: “Our artist in residence programme has grown from strength to strength in the past few years, and we are now on our third residency. This scheme aims to take some of the building science work done at Energy House 2.0 and create groundbreaking artworks – we see this as a positive impact to the work we do, engaging the public in ways that we simply could not have done beforehand.”

Tickets for Sounds From the Other City are available now. Attendees can sign up for a time slot for The Conductor when they collect their wristbands, with five performances on the hour from 3.00pm.

Image: Mishka Henner

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