Holly Herndon – Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival – Review by Andrew Darley
Date Sep 17 @ 21:30.
Venue: Spiegeltent in Wolfe Tone Square
When the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival line-up was announced, Holly Herndon immediately stood out as one of its most exciting prospects. She is both an artist and PhD student at Stanford University where she studies composition through coding software to create custom electronic instruments and vocal manipulations. She released her second record, Platform, this year which is thematically-driven by how people have become so intimate with technology, at the same time as being so vulnerable to it. Translating the subversive world and challenging sound of the record to the live environment, Holly is accompanied by one band member on stage. She communicates with the audience, not by speaking, but through live-typed text on the screens framing either side of the stage mainly to say thanks for coming and “a big fuck you to the National Security Agency”.
Opening with the urgent sounds of a helicopter taking off, the pair shake the wooden frame of the specially-built Spiegeltent. From there, the setlist features hybrids of abstract dance beats, vocal clips sliding past each other and samples of slamming doors. The two screens transform in tangent with the music with programmed 3-D layered and moving designs of real life objects like laptops, meat, desks and reoccurring people. Despite its brain-boggling moments, the show felt like an futuristic fevered dream. Her experimental aesthetic is immersive, free-form and at times inaccessible in her reflection of where we are moving culturally. Holly Herndon’s debut show in Dublin reflected on the connection and disconnect that technology arouses in us. Before leaving the stage screen, or Holly, informs us that they blew the venue’s speakers. An appropriate indication of her music’s penetrating intent.