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 Rendering for Fluxland, 2016|©Cyril de Commarque/Southbank Centre
Rendering for Fluxland, 2016|©Cyril de Commarque/Southbank Centre

'Fluxland', An Immersive Floating Artwork And Sound Installation, Comes To The Thames

Picture of Harriet Clugston
Updated: 7 September 2016
As part of this year’s ongoing Totally Thames festival, French artist Cyril de Commarque has created an innovative visual and sound installation which will drift along the River Thames. The 25-metre long former freight boat will serve as a space for debate and discourse as it floats through the heart of London, reflecting the skyline in its striking mirrored exterior as it goes.

The futuristic boat, which features a mirrored polyhedron sculptural form affixed to its freight vessel base, has travelled all the way from Holland — where de Commarque spent a year creating it in a shipyard — to be in London for the Totally Thames festival, the annual, month-long celebration of one of the world’s most famous rivers. Whilst here, Fluxland will be docking in various locations along the banks of the Thames, inviting Londoners to come aboard and immerse themselves in the unique sound installation. When not docked, Fluxland will embark on journeys up and down the river as part of a series of artistic performances, visible and audible to the surrounding city, with the boat emitting a soundtrack of musical samples sourced by de Commarque from all around the world.

Fluxland by Cyril de Commarque | © Graham Kuhn/Southbank Centre

Fluxland by Cyril de Commarque | © Graham Kuhn/Southbank Centre

Throughout September, three separate talks will bring together thinkers and keynote speakers from the worlds of philosophy, science, technology and sociology, utilising the space as an impetus for debate. The aim is to examine the intersection between philosophy, history and ideas surrounding human progress — topics that de Commarque has consistently explored in his previous work, which typically bring together diverse medias.

The intellectual confluence presented in the series of talks (each of which will be streamed online) is mirrored in the design of Fluxland itself, with the polyhedron shape having been ‘understood as a symbol of artistic contemplation and melancholia’ since the time of Aristotle. The talks will be co-chaired by Mark Rappolt, editor of Art Review, and Cyril de Commarque himself. The first panel, which will ‘debate notions of progress, politics and utopias’, will include Colombian novelist Héctor Abad Faciolince, Elif Şhafak, award-winning novelist and Turkey’s most-read female writer, and Pakistani poet and writer Fatima Bhutto.

Fluxland by Cyril de Commarque | © Graham Kuhn/Southbank Centre

Fluxland by Cyril de Commarque | © Graham Kuhn/Southbank Centre

Fluxland was inspired by and directly references the multi-disciplinary and international Fluxus movement of the 1960s art world, which ‘sought to break down the boundaries between art and life and facilitate unexpected encounters with art in the public realm’. As it travels down the Thames, reflecting the series of political, economic and artistic landmarks that line its banks in its mirrored body, Fluxland hopes to invite onlookers to become active participants in the artwork, inviting internal contemplation on the external world that is captured in its constructed borders.

Fluxland will be on the Thames from Thursday September 8th until Friday September 30th 2016.