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Harriet Butler

Sound I’m Particular Talk Series: Leila Johnston

Writer and artist Leila Johnston will talk about the ways in which sound, music and rhythm have been routes to truth in her practice. She will share lessons from several extraordinary collaborators who have influenced her thinking about the value of sound, including professional dancers, and a synaesthete composer.

Leila’s work is part of a tradition which combines folklore and mythology with science and tech. Always with an eye on the transcendent and mysterious, her outputs have ranged from immersive digital installations to playful live shows, books, radio comedy, magazines and podcasts.

The mischievous creations started early, secretly recording comedy sketches and prank calls onto cassettes as a young child, and only got more elaborate and subversive with time. In 2015, Leila’s creative collective, Hack Circus, produced an immersive comedy musical, Underworlds – a one-night-only sell-out event in London, involving puppets, in-character lectures, and audience singalongs. Hack Circus brought art, science and technology themes together under the banner of ‘everyday magic’, and Leila was interviewed about the project for The Independent, The Times, BBC Click, The Guardian and many more.

In 2016, Leila was the first digital artist in residence at the UK’s leading contemporary dance company, Rambert – a fascinating and eye-opening experience where she began to understand dancers’ identity as special musicians. She will cover some highlights of this experience, in this talk.

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