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17th October 2018

Sentinel: Exploring climate change through music and art

As part of the Manchester Science Festival, ‘Sentinel’ is a performance of laser lighting, video, live vocals, and electro-synth music, creating a “multi-sensory journey through present and future effects of global warming.”
Sentinel: Exploring climate change through music and art
Photo: Press photo @ Jason Lock

A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stated that we are now completely off-track for maintaining temperatures at 1.5°C above pre-industrial times; the world is now heading towards a 3°C rise.

A report by the Ro yal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society claimed that this target could be met if certain greenhouse gas removal methods are implemented, but the IPCC’s report implies that the nature of these changes required would be “unprecedented”. They state that a global investment of about 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) will be necessary every year, for twenty years, to ensure the target of a 1.5°C rise is met.

The urgency of this issue is addressed in the performance piece, which has been composed by Richard Evans. We spoke to him to find out more about Sentinel, which he describes as a “creative response to climate change and forced migration”. A refreshing perspective, Evans hopes that the show will depart from the typical lecture or documentary. Sentinel combines electronic music, data visualisation, and video content that aspires to entertain audiences of all ages, as well as inform.

“Climate change is the issue of our era – it affects all of us; it affects all life on Earth and will continue to do so for generations. The subject allows us to look at ourselves and our responsibilities to one another, to our descendants, as well as to other species”.
Featuring electronic, cinematic and ambient music, Evans says the development of the performance came from each song’s theme. There are “synthesised waves in a piece about sea levels, mechanical rhythms in a piece about industrial farming, vocoder voices to represent stock market algorithms and so on”.
To create visuals to accompany the songs, the audio is shared with data visualisation artist Valentina D’efillipo. “Each composition looks at different elements of climate change like chapters in a book. One of the new songs, Protocol, came from Valentina suggesting we develop a piece about the environmental impact of meat production. On stage, vocalist Charlotte Dalton and myself perform within a cube covered in gauze screens, whilst Valentina’s art and other video content are projected on to the screens by our technical team, VJ Joel Clements and lighting designer Tarrick Wilks”.
As climate-change continues as a pressing issue for the world, Evans’s production can be taken everywhere, with components added or removed depending on the venue. He is currently developing a Sentinel album, festival appearances and a UK tour for late 2019.
You can see Sentinel performed as part of the Manchester Science Festival at The Waterside, 25th October 2018. Tickets are available here.

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