Immersive Environments

Water is a scarce and important resource in today’s globalised world, yet its simultaneous scarcity and availability causes gaps within public opinion as to its worth. Aurora, created by Invisible Flock and produced by FACT Liverpool, is an immersive installation that seeks to close this gap, drawing attention to water’s power as a true force of nature.

Toxteth Reservoir, Liverpool, is a unique and apt setting for the work, an empty space which was once a vital supply of water to the surrounding population. Physical echoes of this past remain: audiences have to stand in shallow water throughout the performance. The disorientation of wading through the cavernous hall is emphasised by almost complete darkness, with only ice-blue lasers marking the path. Through its 40-minute duration, Aurora’s lights and sounds viewers on a journey. With senses heightened in the darkness, every flicker becomes significant. The cool yellow glow that brings rainforest sunshine to the hall feels imbued with warmth.

Water is, as an element and topic of conversation, precious but not benign, and moments of Aurora create genuine unease. The roar of an incoming deluge makes the space suddenly claustrophobic, whilst there is suspense as a series of ice pendants, appearing lit with electricity, descending towards the surface of the pool in which the audience stand. With these evocations of humanity’s fragility in the face of nature, the work is unabashed in its emotional intent. Later, soaring strings accompany a playful diffraction of lasers through ice and into a thousand colours. Beautiful and sentimental, it leaves viewers with a sense of wonder, reaffirming beauty in the organic world whilst drawing attention to responsible and conscious diaogues that should be made in today’s accelerating world.

Aurora is open at Toxteth Reservoir, until 7 October. Find out more here. 

Julia Johnson

1. Invisible Flock, AURORA. Courtesy FACT and Vimeo.