Nic Sandiland, Big Satellite Days

Review in Issue 10-3 | Autumn 1998

Captivatingly performed by Sarah Dawson and Martin Gent, Big Satellite Days is a marvellous collection of whimsical tales, hard facts, fine art and multimedia performance, delivered in the lecture theatre of the Royal Institute. The location, which has been a meeting point for Britain’s greatest scientific thinkers for the last two hundred years, provides an ironic backdrop for a performance which attempts to explore complex and perplexing scientific concepts with the application of video and slide projections, ambient soundscapes, a space suit and a washing machine.

Nic Sandiland’s visual images are simple yet stunning. Projected animated and video footage is effectively combined with a score by The Orchid Room and live performance in which Dawson and Gent recite newspaper clippings which range from the bizarre to the scientifically challenging. Dawson’s subdued delivery, along with the nature of the anecdotal content, is reminiscent of Laurie Anderson circa Big Science. Like Anderson, Sandiland has a knack of weaving beguiling tales out of the most mundane material and of combining multimedia wizardry and performance in an impressively organic manner.

Big Satellite Days is much more than an intellectual hybrid of art and science. It succeeds in being simultaneously melancholy and optimistic, whilst also being genuinely moving in places. The visual images are of a quality that would stand on their own and Dawson’s delivery is so beautiful that her reading of the periodic table alone could have enraptured the audience for hours. If only more works that try to combine art, science, performance and technology could do it with the wit, delicacy and charm of Big Satellite Days.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jul 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-3
p. 25