What Nature Says


Can you sound like a cricket or waterdrop? In WNS party tricks are upgraded to a stunning composition with an ecological bent.

What Nature Says is without genre, and yet encompasses many a register: music theatre, performance, radiophonic art, opera and choreography. Its originality stems from director Myriam Van Imschoot's passion for the voice as a unique medium that both is deeply human ànd has the possibility to sound like anything but human.

Imitation and mimicry: the desire 'to sound like' is the core of WNS. 5 performers from various backgrounds voice the murmur of the world. They evoke, in the tradition of foley artists (using only the voice), animals, machines, rivers, winds, etc. An 'a cappella' where nature provides the songbook. But what is nature? Like children, shamans and magicians who imitate other entities, they build and redefine relationships to their shifting environments.

The musical score is based on transcribed field recordings, including noise pollution and the clamor of deforestation. Surprisingly, this vocalized mapping of our fragile ecosystem renders a 'tuned' cacophony that slips more than once into abstraction beyond recognition or into more symphonic registers, with maestro performers that hum, hurl, hiss, grunt and call out like nothing like it.

WNS is about voicing the other, but also about listening other-wise. The audience is divided into two groups. The one group goes to the performance room to see & hear the performers execute the score (35 min); the other group listens in a dark listening room to the same performance while it is channeled live through microphones and a sound cable into a surround set-up of speakers. After the break, the audience groups switch rooms, and the performers execute the score again. Soon the audience realizes how hugely the perceptive conditions (seeing/hearing) impact experience.

This doubling 'set-up' adds to the wit, the conceptual & perceptual force and spell of WNS. In the performance room the audiovisual reigns in the presence of the performers, who with a cunning physical performativity engage their whole body in a grotesque dance. In the listening room, the auditive reigns; sound is autonomous from the sound production by gesturing bodies and proposes other avenues for the trip through soundscapes.

Essaywriter Laermans: "Noise policy is on the agenda for a while, but WNS shows that a negative attitude is not the best solution for a more inclusive politics of sound."

43 min