Nekyia

This was a collaboration with Alaric Sumner, writer and performer, who very sadly and suddenly died shortly after it was completed. This documented version (incorporating his performance) is dedicated to him. Here’s what we wrote about the piece:

The ‘nekyia’ is a night sea journey, a descent into the underworld or into the belly of a sea monster, and a meeting with the dead. It is a myth which occurs in many cultures in different forms and symbolises the struggle towards spiritual or psychological revelation and transformation.

Nekyia is a work for speaker, singer, electroacoustic music and video. It could be read as a study of the ‘nekyia’ myth itself or a descent into psychological depths (the dreamworld). Formally, it might be considered an exploration of the sonic elements of text (the relationship between sound and language and the sound in language). However, it is also a piece which aims to resist unification, keeping all its different themes in dynamic motion.

Research and development of Nekyia was funded by the Arts Council of England. It was commissioned for Shawford Mill Theatre in Somerset, a disused Watermill converted into a theatre, mainly for opera. The sound of the swollen river rushing underneath the building and the rhythm of the water wheel worked their way into the sonic landscape of this piece, emphasising the textual, visual and sonic references to water.

Hyde and Sumner have used many sources (often distorted beyond recognition) to construct a work of fragments, which builds a surprisingly operatic, though formally sparse, event. Two performers, starkly lit, read or sing from either side of a video projection -a recital for eyes and ears. The works of Homer, Virgil, Debussy, Foucault, Jung, Haroldo de Campos and many others are plundered, distorted, transformed into a multilayered and intricate mix of sound, language and image.

There is a close relationship between the text and the sonic material. Most of the electroacoustic music was constructed from Sumner’s texts, spoken and sung, and the compositional techniques of mismatch, quotation, distortion and dislocation in the different media, interweave to create a disturbingly fragmentary coherence. Nekyia went through many transformations and traces of earlier tributaries were retained and are evident in the finished piece. Hyde had overall responsibility for sound and video and Sumner for text, but the compositional process was collaborative with each artist active in all aspects of the piece.

Additional Notes

• Nekyia (35 mins) and Nekyia Study (10 mins -originally a pilot for the final project) have been performed at Baggott Inn, New York; Champlibre, Montreal; Shawford Mill, Somerset; Metrum, Rhythmus, Performanz Conference, University of Vechta, Germany; Sonic Arts Network Conference, University of Huddersfield, Yorkshire; Dartington Arts Centre, Devon; Ultima, Oslo, Norway; Schouwberg, Rotterdam; University of East Anglia, Norwich. Texts from the development of the piece were published in Masthead Literary Arts Magazine (Melbourne, Australia). Out of the collaboration, Hyde also created 64 Refractions (Nekyia) for On Line, a CDRom Supplement for Performance Research PR4:2 (curators Ric Allsopp and Scott deLahunta). He also made a version for the sound/text section (edited by Sumner) of the second issue of Riding the Meridian.

in Video