Sound and movement are not as distinctly separate as you might think. Through The Amplitude – an amalgam of an informative lecture and contemporary dance performance –  Gabriele Reuter and Mattef Kuhlmey take their audience on a journey in order to broaden our understanding of how sound moves through the world we inhabit. On Reuter’s website it says, “By tuning into the simple idea of the acoustic wave, The Amplitude reveals relationship between sound and movement and remixes their channels of perception”.[1] This show is an interesting experience and seeks to explore the intricacies of the relationship between sound and movement through incorporating electronic music, superb sound design, and an empty dark space.

In the beginning there is darkness and sound artist Kuhlmey sits down at an unobtrusive desk to the left of the space. From here he will control the sound of the performance, made clear to be as important a part of the piece as when Reuter enters the stage a few minutes later. Before her entrance our ears are put through their first test: feedback and bass sounds are projected at various frequencies around the room as we attune to the acoustic nature of the space. Silence falls as Reuter enters. Amid the eerie silence she says, “This is an acoustic wave… the sound of my voice”, drawing the audience’s attention to the physicality of sound. Reuter uses both her voice and physical movement to demonstrate the movement of sound through the air. Both humorous and enlightening, Reuter has the audience utterly captivated.

The first piece that Kuhlmey sets to music is performed delicately but with incredible passion and energy. At the centre of the stage dangles a microphone, which Reuter reaches to punch, causing sound to bounce throughout the space. As we have just been told, acoustic waves to not travel in a straight line, they go in all directions and in her movement Reuter attempts to be simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. Her body shows the erratic precision of sound waves and we are draw in as the strong pulses of Kuhlmey’s electronic beat in our ears.

 

“What happens when an acoustic wave hits an object?” After the audience is asked this question by Reuter, technology becomes interwoven within the piece as she transfixes her radio microphone to the palm of her hand. While she continues to give her lecture on sound waves, the amplifier is turned up and reverberating echoes pierce the lecture. Movement becomes inextricably linked to sound as Reuter becomes one with the wave. Interacting with the audience, she uses the microphone in her palm to capture the pulses and sounds of the front row asking them to take her hand. She manipulates the sound and waves with her hands as she captures then releases bursts of energy on the stage through her movements.

The sound frequency begins to increase as the lights fade and she is caught in a central spotlight. During a sudden blackout Reuter mysteriously leaves the stage but the microphone is left swinging ominously from its angled height. Kuhmley orchestrates a collage of sound to choreographed lighting which crosses through the stage like light seeping through door cracks. The beat music fades out again into feedback and solitary drone notes.

When Reuter returns she is clutching a radio flicking through the channels. In her lecture tone she discusses the functionality of radio waves. She leaves the radio in the centre and other radio sets are placed either side.  Further radios appear and are passed amongst the audience for people to select channels at random to be a part of the “concert”. This is incredibly affective, and is an aspect of The Amplitude that ensures every individual showing is sure to be unique. The Amplitude creates a hyperawareness of the everyday sounds around us and forces us to consider an aspect of our lives we instinctively take for granted. Through their creative partnership, Reuter and Kuhlmey have created something really special, and definitely something different.

The Amplitude works hard not to be confined only to the stage and the performance. Another part of the project is a sound journey through the streets surrounding The Place – the venue in which the show was performed on the 31st March 2017. These are self guided (and completely free) and maps and accompanying material can be picked up from the Box Office desk at The Place at any time, and a great way for any member of the audience to take the experience of the show away with them.

[1] http://www.gabrielereuter.de/2015/05/the-amplitude-work-in-progress-collaboration-with-mattef-kuhlmey/