About a decade after and 3,000 miles away from the room Wallace Sabine founded the field of architectural acoustics in, the Georgetown Steam Plant was erected on the south end of Seattle. Destined to power railcars and whatnot forever, the power plant shutdown back in the 1970s and the government slapped a national landmark plaque on it. The still-towering, now ominous plant that housed Big Black’s final show sits between a Boeing-run airstrip and back road commercial trade space. What better place to host a festival of light, sound, and movement?
Put on for a second year by Elevator, arguably Seattle’s best monthly series, C O R R I D O R came to bloom on a cold, overcast day. The aging concrete walls, decades-old uninsulated windows, and an industrial interior that was frozen in time and cold to the touch all made the air thick. As performers went on throughout the day, it seemed the room was still. Scenes of people huddled around, waiting their turn to fill their suggested donation cup of noodles with one of the two large pots of broth outside. Leaning over the railing or sitting in white plastic folding chairs to experience Austin Larkin’s “Tiny Beams of Light Coming Through the Holes (like fingers)” on top of projections from Coldbrew Collective. Or in the main performance hall, wherein onlookers sat in rows while washed or pelted with sound and light as if participating in a reimagining of the buried Terracotta Army, or passengers on cross-Atlantic red eye laying still while electronic auras and seatbelt warnings move around.
The mapped projections beamed from the back of the main hall gave off an optical illusion to the room, causing it to appear cone-shaped, with sound beaming back from the far end similar to a small independent movie theater. Madalyn Merkey bounced sound off walls as if they were rubber balls of varying size. The one-two assault of JS Aurelius and Kevin Drumm playing back-to-back lent brutality.
The curation and execution of C O R R I D O R was perfect: composed sound flowing into choreographed movement into compiled light into an extraordinary 12-hour experience inside a cavernous relic.