For our September Cog Night, the team went west to The Coronet Theatre to indulge in the audio-visual artistry of Korea’s Tacit Group performing ‘tacit.perform’. Zara gives us her thoughts.
The Coronet is exactly as it describes itself on the tin “a little, late-Victorian jewel of a theatre – with the most atmospheric bar in the known universe.”
The bar felt cosy and warm and yet, at the same time, the rich reds and heavily slanted floor made it feel like something out of a David Lynch film – it was strangely seductive! As part of the festival “Tiger is Coming” the bar was also serving Korean snacks and drinks – including raspberry wine served in a 25ml shot glass, which of course I had to try.
A bell rang to signal that the performance space was ready and shortly after this, the audience were summoned to head up the staircase towards The Print Room Studio.
Entering the space, we could see there was a large screen for visuals with three chairs and two long tables placed in front of that. The tables were bedecked with shiny Apple computers and all sorts of twiddly hardware and curious-looking machines. I have to admit I have know idea what to call them.
At the bar I was told by the manager of Tacit Group that tonight was the busiest night of the run. It clearly was very busy. From what I could tell there were only a handful of seats going spare and, on a side note, being surrounded by such a mixed bunch of people genuinely added to the excitement for me. Already I was thinking that this could be our kinda (Cog) jam but we’d just have to wait and see.
Once we were all settled in, the performers quietly walked across the stage and took their seats in an unassuming way. But I knew they’d get up to no good – l’d seen the Youtube videos.
The music began in a minimalist kind of way, but it was clear that something was askew with their offbeat melodies and the peculiar visuals in the background. Although the visuals were simple they made me feel like I was in a tunnel running, desperately trying to escape. Then it gradually got louder and more intimidating. It made me feel a lot of things (including uncomfortable), but still it was great.
I felt Tacit Group balanced out their performance well with the use of words on screen to communicate with the audience. This definitely added a touch of humour and gentleness to a performance which at times felt really intense. The displays, words used, and the instructions they conveyed during these moments are best described as extremely cute and a complete contrast to their “difficult” music.
The audience loved it, you could see the smiles all over their faces.
However, my biggest realisation during the show was how shallow my breathing had been throughout. I had to take massive gasps of air to recuperate before the next track kicked in. Something in their work made me feel anxious – I guess the drones and crackling were getting to me more than my face would let on and this was my body’s way of responding.
But I did love their crescendos and the tension it created when you knew they were about to unleash something wild, both sonically and visually. I adored the experience of controlled mayhem from beginning to end.
Usually my favourite types of art do that, allow me to escape whether that’s into someone else’s world or just allowing me to venture into something otherworldly. Tacit Group was definitely a mix of both of these for me: I felt dread, anxiety, happiness and excitement all in one show.
Watching the visuals go from familiar shapes to undefinable shakey figures, or even watching a triangle morph into a square and then into a circle – was disorienting to say the least. Add to that the splash of neon colours… well, I felt like I’d been transported to another dimension!
There was a real punk aesthetic going on that spoke to my inner rebel, and I couldn’t help but think what the friends I had as teenagers would think. I could imagine their eyes glowing, mouths stating “THAT WAS SICK!!”.
The performance lasted an hour long. It felt like exactly the right amount of time for a show like this (it might have started to grate had it gone on for longer).
The invitation to go on stage at the end, and be with the artists as they conducted their final piece, reminded me of metal gigs, where stage invasions are aplenty. A merging of artist and audience, who is who in this situation?
I love how this show defied both cultural norms and expectations. I love how certain social pleasantries seem to have been thrown out the window in terms of the music they were creating. But most of all I loved the liberation I felt having my inner world externalised on stage – the rage of it all, the playfulness of it all, the humanness of it all. It was very cathartic.
Walking away from the performance at the end, allowed for all the high energy from the show to finally land. It settled soundly in the centre of my chest. Thank you for the immersive experience Tacit Group – hope you come back to London very soon.