From 11am to 6pm, Robbie Thomson's Ecstatic Arc is just a regular art installation in the Library Gallery in the Summerhall venue. However, at 7pm the installation transforms into an engaging and exciting piece of performance art that is an intriguing pleasure for the ears and eyes. Ecstatic Arc is a mechanically-themed performance, employing experimental machinery, industrial-scale puppetry and bold metallic sculptures. In conjunction with impressively theatrical lighting and bold sonic soundscapes, this audiovisual presentation of repetition successfully brings a theme of industrial power to the fore.
The visual focus of Ecstatic Arc is a Tesla coil contained within an iron cage and initially concealed by darkness. Anticipation grows and grows as pulsating electronic sonic rhythms work in harmony with effective and expressive mood lighting. As performance continues, and energy increases, these impressive lighting effects likewise expand, introducing intense sound signatures and large, ferocious light bulbs. Found materials and objects have been pieced together by Robbie Thomson to present mechanical arms that move and jolt in tandem with this dramatic soundtrack, using choreography that seems to take inspiration from science fiction, industry and engineering.
Eventually, the Tesla coil comes to the centre of performance. Its exuberant bursts of energy arrest and shock the audience, branching out through the darkness like lightning bolts. In its entirety, this theatrical event transforms the exhibition space into a completely new landscape.
Ecstatic Arc is a truly original and gripping piece of performance art that shocks the senses with its celebration of the possibilities of technology and mechanics. As an art installation it is an engaging and visual delight; as a performance piece it is a pure, sonic experience.