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Immersive audio-visual performance The Terrestrial Sea explores the Cromarty Firth

Creator Mark Lyken chats about the upcoming Fringe run, and seeing oil rigs at the bottom of a garden

Preview: Immersive audio-visual performance The Terrestrial Sea explores the Cromarty Firth

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

The first thing you should know about The Terrestrial Sea is that it’s big. The song cycle, written by sound artist Mark Lyken, and accompanying film, shot by Emma Dove, were inspired by (and created on) the Cromarty Firth, a deep estuary roughly 20 miles north of Inverness that’s a popular spot with heavy industries. Chains, cranes and boats all loom large on-screen, while Lyken’s synth drones and found sounds create an atmosphere that’s wet, weighty and intimidatingly massive.

‘These structures are monumental, they’re surreal and, aside from environmental concerns, they’re quite beautiful,’ says Lyken ahead of a three-date engagement for the 45-minute work at the Filmhouse. ‘Watching it in a more cinematic environment is ideal; the thing about these works is that they are performance, but they’re very cinematic so they lend themselves well to scale and for people to be right in amongst this environment.’

Originally just four pieces that Lyken recorded himself on-site, the project grew in scope when Dove was commissioned by Glasgow arts organisation Cryptic to contribute a visual element. The fact she grew up just five minutes from Cromarty made her perspective all the more valuable, though not to the detriment of Lyken’s.

‘I guess as an outsider, I see things in a different way than Emma would,’ he says. ‘I would point out things that she couldn’t see anymore because they were so familiar. I guess if there’s a massive oil rig at the bottom of your garden and you grow up with that, you don’t really notice there’s a massive oil rig at the bottom of the garden. Whereas I’m like, “what the hell is that”?’

In addition to the already impressive sense of scale, Lyken says the Filmhouse run will ‘be the first performance of the new surround sound version’ of The Terrestrial Sea. Prepare to dive deep.

The Terrestrial Sea, Filmhouse, Lothian Road, 16–18 Aug, 4.30pm, £10 (£8).

The Terrestrial Sea

Mark Lyken and Emma Dove The Terrestrial Sea highlights the ever-changing environments of Cromarty Firth through music and film. In 2012 Mark Lyken was Artist in Residence at the Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty, where he worked alongside the team of ecologists and recorded The Terrestrial Sea album. In this Cryptic…


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