Una Santa Oscura

Directed by Tom Creed
Performed by Ioana Petcu-Colan (violin)
Stage, lighting and costume design by Ciaran O’Melia
Video design by Jack Phelan

Somewhere in a city, a young woman sits in a bedsit, alone with her violin. Thoughts race through her mind as she goes about her day.

This multi-sensory performance is a collaboration between some of the most exciting artists in contemporary Irish music and theatre. Originally inspired by the life and music of 12th century visionary Hildegard of Bingen, this evocative combination of sound and visuals creates a tangible sense of a life explored on stage.

Like an opera without singers, this meditative and moving wordless performance combines virtuoso violin playing with a haunting electronic soundscape. Created by leading Irish composer Ian Wilson, performed by acclaimed violinist Ioana Petcu-Colan, and directed by rising star Tom Creed, Una Santa Oscura delves into one woman’s solitude and loss, creating a truly original and memorable experience.

Ian Wilson’s original inspiration for the name of this piece came from the Joel-Peter Witkin work Un Santo Oscuro. To subtly allude to Witkin’s work, Tom and I decided the best approach might be to texture the mostly generative video from Processing with visual artefacts created via Witkin’s techniques and processes.

Briefly, Witkin uses large format film and early glass plate photographic processes such as daguerreotyping as intermediates upon which he works, physically scratching and manipulating the surface of the film / glass. His photographs, though mostly not for the squeamish, are captivating once you get past the initial hurdle of the grotesque and macabre. The scenes seem so deliberately and carefully composed that it’s easy to imagine them being a sort of tableaux vivants before photographing.

I found some glass plate prints in an antique shop and scanned in textures and other scratches and defects from areas untouched by image. I then used these in a couple of ways – as elements in Processing sketches and as overlay textures for the overall output. There are some stills below, but I’m working on getting a live clip of the show which will give a much better idea of the video design.

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