Intending to enlarge a cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary artistic practice, SOFT CENTRE is leading a new way of making art in Sydney. Their journey roots back to 2017, being led by a collective of creatives who have been re-envisioning sounds, art, and digital media through a diverse program of performances, public installations, and an annual festival. Now entering what they call a ‘new evolutionary phase’, the traditional supercharged one-day events are being reinvented as the multi-day interdisciplinary festival ‘UNFURL’, which takes place this upcoming weekend.
‘Outsider art for freaks and geeks’
The curation and creative process behind the collective's work focuses on creating an intrinsic experience particular to their inventiveness. The eagerness to break immediate social circles and explore things that exist outside of the art norms leads artists and audiences to experience what they describe as ‘outsider art for freaks and geeks’. The focus on site-specific works, as well as on multidisciplinary art, allows artists to experiment within their visions, reimagining art in relation to its time and social spaces.
Across their previous projects, a variety of different mediums have been explored, ranging from sonic speculation workshops, new digital art, dance, acoustic and electronic music, and installations, among many other creative languages. By interweaving different art practices, not only new artistic expressions naturally form, but audiences often separated into different social contexts end up merging into a new community.
“We want to cross-pollinate art forms, genres, and formats as a way of bursting scene bubbles”
In light of these values, there is an aim of reimagining festival experiences. The philosophy leading SOFT CENTRE’s projects is all about repurposing and transforming the experience of being at a festival. There is an initiative to cross different art forms often not combined, creating an experience very specific to being at a SOFT CENTRE event. Through these combinations, they evolve into building an identity that resists a jammed understanding of art, with no fear of mutating into extreme and weird experiences.
Exploring the hidden implications behind artistic practices
A forward-looking characteristic of SOFT CENTRE is an engagement toward understanding the hidden implications behind practices of sound, art, and media creation. Their work extends into producing workshops with the intent to further cross different practices to produce new ideas. One cool example is the ‘Lost Futures of Me', a speculative workshop that includes testing YouTube’s potential as an exclusive interface to create mashups, algorithmic DJ sets and envision mixtapes/collages from the rhythmic currents of YouTube’s tempor(e)ality. With this sort of engagement, an understanding of media and art beyond its apparent capacities can be eagerly explored.
“SOFT CENTRE is a unique collision of ideas, people and communities with a penchant for the extreme"
The concepts used in the development of the collective’s work go way further than a mere comprehension of art and sounds, as it comprises a rich framework of revolutionary ideas in the realm of political, sound, and media theories. There is an active engagement with ideas that question power dynamics and systemic issues. This starts with SOFT CENTRE reflecting on their social-political space in Australia and its colonial history, but extends to the questioning of norms and rules that guide art aesthetics and what music should sound like. This practice of including discussions of power directly affects how art is being defined or re-defined when choices are being made regarding who will be the creatives involved in their projects.
UNFURL: A new chapter
As a result of their radical ideas, and the eagerness to create an event for the freaks and weird ones, their upcoming festival UNFURL is an exciting new chapter for SOFT CENTRE and the city: ‘Sydney has changed its tune around late-night dance music and there seems to be a real appetite for ambitious new projects in unconventional spaces’, the organisation explains. Through an interlinked program of concerts, raves, workshops, and discussions, SOFT CENTRE is bringing a four-day city festival to Sydney. Expected can be experimental club music, live A/V performances and sound art.
With such an interesting set of initiatives, UNFURL cuts open and dissects the SOFT CENTRE experience into new exciting mutations for new audiences. Through the programming, they aim at making the experience immersive for those interested in noise art, field recording, leftfield club music, doom metal, digital art, and discourse. With an appetite for encompassing new horizons, this year’s edition has the potential of being a remarkable experience for the audiences and creatives involved.
UNFURL will take place from the 24 - 27 of November. Find out about the full program here.