Prepare your mind to be blown by electric audio-visual-sonic show XFRMR

This article is from 2017


credit: Culture Station

Artist Robbie Thomson harnesses the Tesla coil's power to create an audio-visual musical experience

Housed in a Faraday cage, Robbie Thomson's Tesla coil is the main acoustic instrument in his audio-visual-sonic show. Designed by Nikola Tesla in 1891, the coil is a device that makes electricity visible, but Thomson also uses the sparks it produces to create music.

'I explored what the sonic possibilities were with the coil. What kind of tone you could create and how to make it into a full-on composition you can listen or maybe dance to, depending on the context of the show.'

Thomson is exploring both this Fringe: he has a 4pm show and a 10pm show. The afternoon is a theatre experience, while the later event has more of a gig or club feel.

'There are sections of the piece that vary from really intense to really melodic,' he explains. 'It's in a beautiful setting in the Leith Volcano, which makes the whole thing very atmospheric, as all the visuals from the show spill onto the back of the church.'

Ultimately, says Thomson, the audience won't necessarily come away from each show feeling or thinking the same things.

'Sonic art is very much about the textures of the instrument and how this comes across in the music. Everyone will get their own experience from it; there isn't necessarily a clear message to walk away with.'

The Leith Volcano, 22–26 Aug 4pm (also 10pm, 24–26 Aug), £12 (£6).


By Robbie Thomson In 1891, the genius inventor Nikola Tesla tamed lightning with his Tesla coil, a device that renders electricity visible. Artist Robbie Thomson harnesses the sonic capabilities of the Tesla coil to create a work as arresting as the scent of burning ozone and as lively as electricity itself. By…