Brighton Festival conjures sci-fi style Points of Departure

Against the backdrop of night, Brighton Festival is inviting you to take a walk through the atmospheric industrial landscape of Shoreham Port – and to be dazzled by otherworldly sound and light installations.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 9:05 am
Points of Departure, Ray Lee Brighton Festival 2021
Points of Departure, Ray Lee Brighton Festival 2021

Wondrous machines will emerge from the darkness to strange but haunting effect, monumental kinetic sculptures that seemingly defy gravity as they spin and whirl in an endless dynamic dance. Ray Lee: Points of Departure runs from May 1-23; tickets are £15; just book your timed slot for a 45-minute adventure.

The concept brings together Ray Lee’s spectacular sculptures for the first time.

Towering metal tripods sing out a hypnotic siren call while lights whirl in mesmerising orbits of colour. A series of giant towers holding suspended speaker cones gradually swing higher and higher until each arm soars up over the heads of the audience, ringing with electronic tones that create a transfixing harmony of pulsing drones. The structures sing an alien song, a sci-fi symphony that points to a future departure to other worlds and another universe, Ray promises.

“I was offered the chance to present some work in relation to Shoreham Port by Brighton Festival. They have got a strong commitment to putting artwork in unusual places and creating some interesting adventures for audiences. Audiences turn up somewhere unexpected. It is not like going to a theatre or a gallery. They just turn up – and there is a defined route. You are led around it to some extent. There is one way that you are supposed to go, and along the way you encounter a series of large-scale art works. It is not a narrative in a conventional sense. You are not being told a story, but I hope it will create an atmosphere.”

Especially as darkness falls: “My works have a very strong sci-fi quality to them. I don’t know how important it is for the audience to know this, but I imagine them turning up to a port waiting to travel to another planet. You have the port in the present and you also have the idea of the port in the future, and in that sense the works have a sci-fi quality. Some people have talked of some of them as looking a bit like The War Of The Worlds.”

Some pieces existed already; others Ray has made specifically for this event: “The audience will be allowed into parts of the port that they are not usually allowed into. We will be starting around 8.30 and going through until just after 11. There are timed slots. I was really interested in the port itself. This one is called Points of Departure, a place that you travel from and travel to. It may not be obvious to people when they turn up, but that was very much my starting point. When I visited it, I was struck by the working nature of the port. It is a historic port, but it is working 24 hours a day. It is about the idea of bringing to it pieces that are also moving, that are also kinetic and also adding something…

“We were going to go ahead with it last year. We had the green light, and then obviously it got cancelled, but they were very keen for something this year, and it is great that it is now happening. I have had a long time to think about it in the meantime. I have changed things a bit since last year because the port has also changed. There has been building work so there are parts that we can’t now go but also parts where we can now go, but having that extra time to think about it has been good.”

Suitable for ages seven plus with adult supervision.