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Performance, in person
Sonic Flows – Performance Night
Thu 28 March 202428 Mar 2024 
07:0009:30 PM

Performance night with Yiwen Li, Lao San Yang (Bianco Li, Corey Lyu, Zhuyang Liu) and Samuel Barbier-Ficat curated by Anastasia Chugunova as part of the YOUNG programme, which supports its members to realise their ideas at Pushkin House.

The history of information and communication technologies has always been associated with something that transcends human experience or, as William James put it, a ‘religious impulse’ that extends far beyond religion. That’s a double-sided coin: on the one hand, any technology possesses the qualities of a physical thing. On the other, especially if we talk about IT, it allows for the incorporeal encoding and transmission of meaning. sonic flows, bringing together performances by Yiwen Li, Lao San Yang collective and Samuel Barbier-Ficat, is a three-act programme aiming to explore the alleged juxtaposition between religious and scientific perception, arguing that the present is replete with numerous examples of when these two ways of perceiving the world merge into one. During the first two acts, we pay particular attention to the origins of Chinese culture and the media associated with it, whereas the closing performance serves as a rumination on the broader relationship between classic and contemporary sonic media. 

In a group performance, Cavernous WhisperYiwen Li takes as a point of departure images of dancers found among the numerous murals from the Mogao caves. Built between the 4th and 14th centuries, this complex is one of the most important places of Buddhist meditation and worship. Combining the sounds of Qin (or Chinese lute) and contemporary electronic, made in collaboration with Samuel Barbier-Ficat, the performance serves as a fictionalised ritual, raising the question of how using the body as a medium can explore the supposed line separating a religious and a more grounded scientific view on the world.

In a similar vein, in their performance ‘声卦 Sound of Hexagrams, Lao San Yang collective addresses the system of hexagrams, first described in The Book of Changes, an ancient Chinese text that dates back over 3,000 years. Each hexagram comprises six lines, either yin (broken) or yang (solid), representing the duality of life and the universe, which was later understood as the first instance of binary coding – the basis of modern computer science. As each hexagram represents a different condition of life, this ancient system is still widely used as a technology of divination and decision-making. At the beginning of their performance, each artist throws coins in order to make their own set of hexagrams that are subsequently interpreted through sound. This practice allows each artist to bring the relationship between their own understanding of Chinese metaphysics and knowledge of music. 

The event will be closed by Samuel Barbier-Ficat with his newly created piece Curtain Music. In this composition, Samuel references the cacophony of a symphonic orchestra tuning prior to performance. This dischord is present throughout Western classical music, from the 12th-century compositions inspired by erratic religious visions to Bach’s endless contrapuntal canon. Drawing from these elements, Samuel combines classical music and experimental electronic sound, and thus blurs the line between the organic and digital domains.

Anastasia Chugunova

Anastasia Chugunova (London, UK) is a researcher and curator with professional experience in digital marketing and content management. Her research is driven by an investigation into media theory, specifically its intersections with psychoanalysis, affect theory and fiction. As a curator, Anastasia is committed to developing environmentally sustainable, low-carbon projects. Upcoming exhibitions include: Surface Tension, DES BAINS, London, UK (2024); Todestrieb, Generation & Display, London, UK (2024); Welcome to my Crib, GUTS Projects, London, UK (2024). Recent projects include Fluid Cosmologies, Forma Arts and Media, London, UK (2023); BEYOND, The Crypt Gallery, London, UK (2023); Play/Pause, Chisenhale Studios, London, UK (2022); and Prelude to Space, Stokey Popup, London, UK (2022).

Samuel Barbier-Ficat 

Samuel Barbier-Ficat is a French multidisciplinary artist based in London. Taking cues from different mediums such as installations, performances, music and film, Samuel’s practice often intertwines relief, tension and disruption. He has toured extensively across Europe and the UK with his various music projects. His music video, Fausse Nouvelle, was nominated at the Bogotá Short Film Festival and Berlin Interfilm Festival (2022). As a composer, Samuel was also nominated at the Côté Court Festival, Paris, France, for his score for a film in competition. Most recently Samuel has performed at Crypt Gallery, London, UK (2023) and Bloomsbury Theatre, London, UK (2023).

Yiwen Li 

Yiwen Li (b.1995, China) is an artist and curator based in London. Her work navigates the alternative world and the psychology of religion, addressing the relationship between science and mysticism, technology and magic, instrumental and value rationality. Using a variety of mediums ranging from sculpture and painting to video, film and performance, she is interested in bridging the gap between Eastern and Western cultural frameworks and the reconfiguration of reality. Recent exhibitions and curatorial projects include: Pretty Doomed, Ugly Duck, London, UK (2023); Jewel, Pearl, BUOY Arts Centre, Tokyo, Japan (2023); BEYOND, The Crypt Gallery, London, UK (2023); Degree Show, Slade SFA, London, UK (2023); Air and the Absent, Resource for London, London, UK (2023); Squeeze, Barbican Art Group Trust, London, UK (2023); Frameless Contact, Old Brompton Gallery, London, UK (2023); and Liminal Cracks, SET Kensington, London, UK (2023).

Lao San  Yang 

Lao San Yang (BiancoLi, Corey Lyu and Zhuyang Liu) is an experimental sonic collective founded in 2022. The group explores possibilities within free improvisation with different instruments, folk songs, spoken words, myths, in-conversation notations and noise, thus touching upon a wide range of contemporary debates in cross-media performances. Encompassing retooled instruments and electronics, their performances refer to soap operas, and are imbued with a fictional approach. Most recently, they have performed at Amersham Arms, London, UK (2023); Hundred Years Gallery, London, UK (2023); JZ Club, Hangzhou, China (2023), and Goldsmiths, University of London, UK (2022). 


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