Elemental debuted in a sold out season at the Melbourne Festival in 2009. Since then it has gone on to sell out shows seasons of shows in Melbourne, Bendigo and Goa, India. It was shown in Greenwich as part of the ANZ Literary Festival, Birmingham and Winchester in May and June 2015. It was also shown at the Central European Fulldome Festival Brno 13–14 April 2015.

Elemental is a unique exploration of science, mind and the universe showcased under the spectacular dome theatre of the planetarium. Poets, musicians, sound and video artists – and world renowned science writer John Gribbin– have collaborated to present the world of the most literary, dazzling and passionate stars.

For centuries, poets have looked to the skies and attempted to scribble meaning into the galaxies. The novelist Peter de Vries once wrote, 'The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination, but the combination is locked up in the safe.' What if we had a key, even if only for a moment? What if we could measure, in words, what we have only imagined? Einstein took the view, 'the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.' What if he is right?

The artists involved in this show explore four different theories of the beginnings of the universe: The Big Bang, The Theory of Everything, Dark Matter and M Theory. Are these the lost poetic lectures of the beginning of time?

The show has many exciting components: Legendary UK experimental musicians Nurse with Wound have contributed a new piece commissioned especially for Elemental, based on the theory that the resonant frequency of the Big Bang was F#. The memorable voice of the late Dr Carl Sagan – the writer and creator of the award-winning series Cosmos – has been on loan for one of the works. Emmy award winning Drew Berry has kindly given us his DNA animation to use in the beautiful dome.

 

REVIEWS:

It was stunning to see science I knew so well through the mind of such talented artists. I was struck by how much the artists loved and understood these incredible scientific theories of our time. Elemental took abstract and wonderfully bizarre science and made it a human story.
Dr Alan Duffy

The implications of modern astrophysics inspire an intriguing and immersive multimedia collaboration at the Melbourne Planetarium. Before we begin, future festival artists take note: the comfy recliners, surround sound and a half dome screen of the planetarium provide an unfair advantage. The opening sweeps of planetary imagery had a good part of the audience giggling like little kids. They were now putty in the hands of the poets. Elemental is almost beyond definition. It’s an exploration of quantum physics and modern cosmology through video art, music, poetry and live performance. Yes, quantum physics. It explores four key theories of modern astro-physics about the universe and how it began, and is a collaboration between poets, musicians, sound and video artists and world renowned science writer John Gribbin.
Arts Hub

As a performance venue, the possibilities the planetarium provides are immense. Elemental is sold out, which is a wonderful affirmation that people are interested in mixed-media, and in poetry and science. And of course, those of you lucky enough to have procured a ticket also get to eat free Kool Mints handed to you by funky space chicks in space boots (clearly this had a lasting effect on me). If you haven’t got a ticket and this appeals (and why the hell wouldn’t it?) best you start bribing anyone lucky enough to have one.
Australian Stage

As I left the planetarium I looked up. The stars seemed very still and quiet. And despite Melbourne’s light pollution, just as poetic as they ever were.
The Age

Perhaps this story more than anything; an imagined car driven to the edge of space and a famous astronomer marveling at how little we know, sums up Elemental better than anything: It is a cleverly orchestrated response that opens up the questions we have about the vastness of the galaxy and humanity’s many, varied ways of trying to answer them.
Katie Haworth Review of Elemental in Greenwich

ELEMENTAL ARTISTS:



Alicia Sometimes

Alicia Sometimes is a writer, poet, broadcaster and musician. She is currently one of the Breakfasters on 3RRR. She was editor of the national literary journal Going Down Swinging for seven years and has appeared twice in Best Australian Poems and ABC TV's Sunday Arts. She was the host of 3RRR’s writing and spoken word show Aural Text for fourteen years and is a regular guest on 774, 3RRR and Radio National. She has performed her spoken word at many venues, festivals and events around the world. Alicia has two poetry collections, kissing the curve and Soundtrack. She was a 2014 Fellow at the State Library of Victoria. She is director and co-writer of the Melbourne Festival science-poetry show, Elemental – now touring in 2015. 
www.aliciasometimes.com
 

Emilie Zoey Baker

Emilie Zoey Baker is an award-winning Australian poet and spoken-word performer who has toured North America, Europe and Asia as a guest of international festivals. She was also the winner of the 2010 Berlin International Literature Festival’s poetry slam Slam!Review. At home, she performs regularly at arts and literature festivals, and has appeared at the Sydney Opera House and TEDx Melbourne. In 2013 she toured Indonesia with the renowned Woman Of Letters storytelling series, performing in Jakarta and Jogjakarta, as well as a guest on their US tour performing in NYC. Emilie is a 2014 Fellow at the State Library of Victoria. She has been poet-in-residence for Museums Victoria and coordinator for the National Australian Poetry Slam. She teaches poetry and slam in schools and in April 2014, she was core faculty at Canada's Banff Centre.
www.emiliezoeybaker.com
 

Sean M Whelan

Sean M Whelan writes poetry, plays and works for performance. His first full- length play, Everything All The Time had a sold out season in the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Sean has two collections of poetry, Love is the New Hate and Tattooing the Surface of the Moon. Sean also works extensively with musicians. His current projects are rock band The Interim Lovers and electronic musician Isnod. In 2014 Sean was also awarded a Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria to write a poetic history of the Dome Reading Room, alongside poets Emilie Zoey Baker and Alicia Sometimes. Sean has toured extensively throughout Australia and overseas, including Indonesia, the USA, Canada and New Zealand. 

Ryan Van Winkle

Ryan Van Winkle is a poet, live artist, podcaster and critic living in Edinburgh. He is currently Edinburgh City Libraries' Poet-in-Residence. His first collection, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, was published by Salt in 2010 and his poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, AGNI, Poetry New Zealand, The Australian Book Review, and on the Poetry Daily website. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012. He is also the host and co-producer of the arts podcast The Multi-Coloured Culture Laser and the poetry podcast for the Scottish Poetry Library. Find his website at
www.ryanvanwinkle.com
 

Nat Bates

Nat Bates is a composer, sound artist, musician, curator, and teacher. He has produced and performed experimental music, and has composed sound design and music for short films, videos and animations since 1998. He has produced interactive sound works for the web, CD-Rom and installation and has curated and coordinated group shows of interactive installation, music video and sound art. His on going projects include the experimental rock outfit MxR, and Film§coria; a series of soundtracks for appropriated video pieces. Nat held the position of Artistic Director of Liquid Architecture, Australia’s premiere annual festival of sound arts, for 12 years, after co-founding the festival in 2000. He currently holds the board position of Secretary with Liquid Architecture Sound Inc. He has lectured in sound art from the National Gallery in Canberra to Melbourne’s RMIT University, and currently teaches studio recording, studio production and sound design for multimedia at RMIT. Most recently Nat completed a PhD in sound art.
 

Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson is a Melbourne-based violinist, guitarist, composer, producer, photographer and video artist. Since 2005, Andrew has worked extensively with poet Sean M Whelan. Combining spoken word narrative with music, they have written the shows Softly & Suddenly, Death to Your Dreams, LCUK: Falling In and Out of Luck and Sweet Cowboy with Emilie Zoey Baker and featured at festivals including The Brisbane International Arts Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, New Zealand Fringe, Adelaide Fringe & Melbourne Fringe Festival. In 2008 upon returning from touring in Europe, Watson co founded The Single Men’s Drinking Club. In 2009 he collaborated with Claire Fischer writing and performing for the sold out run of the Melbourne International Arts Festival show Elemental at the Melbourne Planetarium.

In the years since Watson has been both a recording and live contributor to an extensive list of bands including Anne of the Wolves, Empire of Poets, Head Honcho, Joe Mckee, Andre Hooke, Seri Vida, Water Music, Rich Davies & The Devils Union, Princess One Point Five, Monty Sparrow, The Guilts, Vampillia (Japan), Philemon, Midnight Scavengers, The Interim Lovers, & Waywardbreed.

Watson is currently preparing his debut solo album under the name, The Man Who Wasn't There. 
www.tmwwt.com

 

Alex Scott

Alex Scott has been working as an editor and motion graphics artist for the last few years with some reasonable degree of success. When not editing and animating, he may well be found doing other related activities such as directing, writing or making pictures. Elemental will be his first foray into 3D for many years – and he is enjoying the challenge of ‘jumping into the deep end’ with this full-dome presentation. 
www.alexscotteditor.com

 

Dan Gorman

Dan Gorman is an electronic artist who has done field recordings in Afghanistan, Syria and an abandoned military base in Teufelsberg, Germany. ‘This is Danseizure’, his third record from Invisible Agent, is a journey through his life in electronica, sqweee and electro.

 

John Gribbin

John Gribbin is a UK based award winning science writer. He has worked for the science journal Nature, and the magazine New Scientist and has written for The Times, The Guardian and The Independent as well as their Sunday counterparts and BBC radio. He is best known for his book In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat. His biographical subjects include Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman, Galileo, Buddy Holly and James Lovelock. He has kindly agreed for Elemental to air an interview that Alicia Sometimes did with him about the wonders of the universe.

 

Claire Fischer

Claire Fischer started playing the violin at the age of 5, studying the Suzuki Method with Lois Shepheard. Claire switched instruments to the viola at age 13 and toured throughout Europe with the Saino Kyioku Chamber Orchestra the same year. Claire focused on classical music after finishing school, playing in the Strad String Quartet but then branched out into contemporary music while playing with the Emaline Delapaix Band, touring the US in 2001. Claire completed her Suzuki Method teacher training in 2010 and now teaches violin and viola and currently collaborates with Andrew Watson, composing and performing instrumental pieces. 

 

Steve Stapelton

Nurse With Wound has been Stapleton’s main musical outlet for some 30 years. He has also appeared on records by other artists and worked as a producer and remixer. As well as his musical output Stapleton is a highly accomplished and critically acclaimed painter and sculptor often working under the guise of ‘Babs Santini’.

There are now over 40 full-length NWW titles. Stapleton’s eclectic tastes in art, film and music is often reflected in the broad and often unpredictable and unlikely music of NWW, the output of which draws directly on nearly every musical genre imaginable yet consistently retains a distinctively and recognizable Nurse With Wound ‘sound’. Although Stapleton has sole curatorship of NWW, the group has a long and illustrious list of collaborators including Diana Rogerson, James Thirlwell (Foetus), Colin Potter, Tony Wakeford, David Jackman (Organum), Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio), Stereolab, Jim O’Rourke, Andrew Liles, Sunn O))), William Bennett (Whitehouse), Robert Haigh, Rose McDowall (Strawberry Switchblade), Christoph Heeman, Faust, Annie Anxiety, Jhonn Balance (Coil), Matt Waldron (Irr. App (Ext)) and, most regularly, David Tibet (Current 93). 

NWW have played over 15 shows worldwide and performed full live NWW sets is in Austria, Belgium, France, Barcelona, London, Moscow, Berlin and Venice. Interestingly NWW claim that each live appearance is a rehearsal for the next show and no two shows have ever been the same. The NWW live experience is kept unique by featuring an array of different and ever evolving guest musicians. Nurse With Wound and Steven Stapleton continue to be fervently hyperactive with a ceaseless zest for breaking new horizons both visually and sonically.

 

Ai Yamamoto

Ai Yamamoto has been producing abstract videos and sound works since 2000. Ai’s works are often created in computer environments and could be described as electronic based, abstract and melodic. Her visual and music style varies from soft melodic and shimmering abstract images to dark explosive tones. Her main area of interest is the dramatic structure and flow as well as gentle splashes with abstract texture bringing atmospheric layered visuals into her compositions. She also composes noise / abstract tracks as well as ambient sound with her visual art. She has five recordings, appeared on many compilation projects with her video and sound work and has recently had a residency at the Performance Space for Emmersion projects by Gail Preist (2008), sound design for Bita Fayyazi at Austrian Gallery (2006) and sound design for Bita Fayyazi at De Hallen Gallery in Belgium (2006). She worked with visuals for/alongside Lawrence English (room40), Ben Frost, Raceless (Curse ov dialect), Bita Fayyazi (performance, video artist), Anton Negen (video artist) and more.