Anywhere Festival 2016: Argo presents: FLOW
Argo’s latest show, Flow, feels like the kinda show that characters in a stylish New York drama like ‘Girls’ might have attended. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means the work is gorgeous, high production-value, and safe. And those are all okay things for a work to be. Because by being those things, what Argo managed to do was bring together the most diverse audience I’ve ever seen in one place in this town, and then let them mingle and shift comfortably together. The success of Flow is a testament, more than anything, to the universal language of live instrumental music, and the gorgeousness of the Spring Hill Reservoirs.
At the centre of the show are composer/producer duo Ben Heim and Connor D’Netto, who orchestrate the entire show from the central room of the Reservoir, which is made up of sixteen spaces joined by high arches. In the rooms facing toward the pair, four musicians perform works on electric and classical guitar, as well as on cello and violin. Sometimes just one of them plays, sometimes a few of them at once. And which of the four spaces they occupy as they play changes, as does how the sound is mixed—Heim and D’Netto use a quadrophonic speaker system in this show to make the sound of each instrument move (or Flow, perhaps) around the space.
The audience flows, too, from one instrumentalist to another. We shift around the space, testing how the acoustics differ from room to room. We hear the compositions begin and end, and we smile at the people we pass, because we are all sharing in the same feeling of the music that Argo have made for us.
And that’s more or less it. Flow is not an ambitious show; it’s a nice show, and that’s enough. The compositions are great, and the visuals are great too, when they are only waves and not digitally-rendered geometric shapes, an effect which felt entirely at odds with the primarily-acoustic nature of the work and the space. But that’s such a nitpick in the context of the work—by which I mean, it matters very little. There were more important, more beautiful things in this work than the projections they used.
The most beautiful thing was the show’s audience. Walking around the space, I saw people sat on the floor, I saw couples holding each other in the middle of a room, I saw people gathering around a guitarist and smiling at him while he concentrated only on the notes he was playing. What I saw were people were who were happy to exist in a space together for an hour, happy to talk very little, and happy to let the music wash over them—and that, to me, feels like a success.