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PREVIEW: Fort Process 2016
Ben Graham , August 18th, 2016 16:25

We look ahead to this year's Fort Process as it prepares to return next month following its first event in 2014

Fort Process, an expansive multidisciplinary music and arts festival, returns to Newhaven Fort on Saturday 3rd September, following a successful inaugural event in 2014.

The one-day festival has an exciting international line-up of experimental and improvised music alongside site-specific sound installations, talks, film screenings, poetry and workshops. Headline acts include Constellation recording artist Carla Bozulich, musician-inventor Pierre Bastien, free jazz legend Evan Parker, Bavarian composer and improviser Limpe Fuchs and visual-sound artists Sculpture.

Elsewhere on the bill, Graham Dunning, Kemper Norton, Sarah Angliss & Laura Cannell join the likes of Adrena Adrena (a collaboration between Boredoms drummer E-DA and artist Daisy Dickinson) and Skatgobs, the visceral vocal improve trio of Phil Minton, Dylan Nyoukis and Luke Poot that proved one of the most memorable acts at the recent Stewart Lee-curated All Tomorrow's Parties.

The festival makes full use of the unique acoustic properties of Newhaven Fort, a 19th Century construction built into a hillside above the town and looking out over both the English Channel and the Sussex Downs. Rebuilt and restored several times, the fort consists of a labyrinth of underground tunnels, corridors and rooms of varying sizes. The open-air parade ground is submerged beneath the level of the hill, while gun emplacements offer stunning views from the hill's highest points. Performances and installations will take place in many of these locations, with audience members encouraged to explore and put together their own programme throughout the day.

"That's one of the joys of it, and it's a key part of the concept of the festival," says Daniel Mackenzie of organisers Lost Property. "That process of arriving on site without really knowing what's happening, and then over the course of the day just discovering more and more as you go around, looking for things that you know are there and on the way there finding other things.

"Also the durational based work against the performances makes that possible as well; there are things that are always happening, and you can discover them and go back to them or just completely forget about them. You might miss things, but it's more about the joy of discovering things that you didn't expect to be there or maybe read about but couldn't picture at all, and then there it is. And then you go on to another space and see something else, and then you emerge into the sunlight and cross the parade ground and in the Romney Hut there's this noise act or whatever. I think that constant feed of new information all day is the excitement of the festival."

This year, Fort Process has a loose theme of movement and the combination of sound and vision, reflected in the home-made instruments and contraptions of Limpe Fuchs and Pierre Bastien, as well as Sculpture's zeotropic turntable art, Graham Dunning's mechanical techno constructions and Sarah Angliss's musical automata.

"The nature of the festival means that we don't really curate it around a specific theme and stick to that; it's not a digital festival or only sound art or only improvised music," Mackenzie expands. "But we have sort of been working on the idea that this edition of the festival is much more about colour and light and movement, so in effect the visual side of things has really been pushed. There's definitely more contemporary media, digitally-inspired stuff, which will come out in the installation work but also in some of the performances which have an audio-visual element to them. Sculpture are probably the most brilliant example of that, with their visual, hacked vinyl projections along with the music."

"It seems to make a lot of sense in this venue, in this site that we're in, to ramp up the visual side of things," agrees fellow Lost Property member Al Strachan. "That's what makes Fort Process different from a lot of festivals as visually it's as interesting as it is aurally."

As with 2014, the 2016 Fort Process includes site-specific works in which artists respond to the fort environment. Sarah Angliss and Laura Cannell will be referring to the renaissance technique known as echo fantasy, in which a musician in one room sets up echoes and reverberations for another musician in another room to play along with or respond to. As Al Strachan explains, this is ideal for the fort's Grand Magazine, as it has two large resonant rooms together allowing the two musicians to play to the ghostly reverberations of one another."

"I think in terms of the approach to the performances we've tried to take into account the different spaces and their characteristics," Mackenzie says. "There are a couple of artists we're hoping to have two or maybe three performances from, with each one in a different space, so the source material is the same but the environment in which it's heard is very different. It's that sense of using the fort almost like a collaborator within an individual performance. Seijiro Murayama is going to be doing several performances, and it'll work well with him because his initial sound is so direct and dry that the effect of the fort playing with that will be really obvious and striking."

Percussionist Seijiro Murayama and electronic musician Toshimaru Nakamura reflect the international nature of the event, having both travelled from Japan thanks to the support of the Sasakawa Foundation. "It's a great chance to connect practitioners in these different fields from all over the world into this one quite obscure place in England," Mackenzie agrees. "We managed that to an extent with the first Fort Process but this time we've expanded it globally."

Murayama and Nakamura are also among the artists running off-site workshops as part of the festival, which will be ticketed separately.

"Seijiro Murayama and Toshimaru Nakamura will be running an afternoon and an evening workshop at the Coach House in Brighton on the Friday, and Carla Bozulich will be holding a workshop at the Rose Hill Tavern in Brighton in the week after," Al Strachan explains. "Also, Limpe Fuchs is doing a workshop at the Hillcrest Centre in Newhaven, which means it's not just a load of Brighton and London people turning up for one day; there are actually workshops happening in Newhaven for local people.

"Limpe herself is amazing; she had an incredible former lifetime being quite nomadic and playing in a group called Anima in the seventies, and she creates her own instruments. I went to one of her workshops in London and it's really giving people in the audience a chance to play on her amazing home-made instruments, and to have a little chat about what happens when you play together and approaches to new instruments. But the actual thrill of it was to play on these self-made instruments, which are quite amazing. They're sculptures in themselves."

Author David Toop heads up the talks programme, while Radio 3's David Bramwell will be speaking on the subject of ghost villages and abandoned settlements. Seventy steps down in the claustrophobic and reportedly haunted Caponier, poet and artist Lisa Jayne will be curating a continuous three-hour poetry reading, appearing alongside eight other performers including Verity Spott, Timothy Thornton and Puppet Diane Di Prima, courtesy of Future Zen.

Highlights of the installation programme include Darsha Hewitt's Electrostatic Bell Choir, in which bells are played via the static build-up of fifteen cathode ray tube TVs, and Mariska De Groot's Niburu installation, which uses overhead projectors and gravitational geometric forces to trace mathematical imagery, tracking the progress of the nomadic ninth planet that crosses our solar system once every 3000 years.

Al Strachan: "Graham Dunning is taking a different approach, too; he's having a whole room for a day and he's working with Sam Underwood, Henry Collins [AKA DJ Shitmat] and Leslie Deere with the idea of creating works over the course of the day and then performing them. And while last year we had half of Henry Cow in Artaud Beats, now we've got the other half with Tim Hodgkinson in Konk Pack."

Daniel Mackenzie: "We should probably get Henry Cow for the next one, shouldn't we? Just to get that completely nailed."

For more information and tickets, visit the Fort Process website or follow the Facebook event for up-to-date news about further additions and workshops.