Brett Smith gets personal at Proximity Festival

Brett Smith and Chloe Flockart.
Brett Smith and Chloe Flockart.

YOU might feel it when penning a poem, watching a film or staring into the eyes of a loved one.

It is that moment when you are so engaged in what you are doing that you enter a place where nothing exists but you and the subject at hand.

Brett Smith’s new experimental performance, When You’re Here, I’m Nowhere, is a one-on-one sound and light journey drawing on this concept.

In the 15-minute act – part of the Proximity Festival – he will try to capture that feeling, 12 times a day, and invite a stranger to do the same.

Smith said his moment of ‘nowhere’ came while preparing food.

“When I cook, I just kind of forget about the world and I’m in that zone,” the South Perth sound designer and composer said.

“My show is based in a stairwell in the Art Gallery of WA (AGWA) and I’m using light and sound as a way to guide the audience member into my space.”

Now in its fourth year, the festival runs over 12 days with artists embedded into the daily happenings of AGWA’s collections, hallways, boardrooms, rooftop and hidden locations.

“The gallery is a very interesting building in itself – it’s very brutal – and when you stand outside, it is very uninviting,” Smith said.

“There are two sets of glass doors and when the first set closes the outside noise disappears so you are instantly in a space that feels and sounds very different to the outside world.

“When you are in the main section it is almost like being in the middle of a spaceship with all these hard angles and lots of triangles that you don’t see normally in architecture and so you get swallowed up in this really quiet, beautiful place.”

This is the first year Smith has participated in Proximity and admits the process is daunting.

“The only other time I’ve performed for someone – just me and them – was for an ex-girlfriend,” he said.

“I work with a cover band and we had a gig at which I’d sung some backup vocals and she said, ‘you don’t sing, I don’t believe you, sing me a song.’

“Then it was this really bizarre and intimate moment where I was freaking out a bit and just had to sing her a song.

“Ultimately it was really engaging and I think that was why I was attracted to the festival – it is a very engaging and intimate experience and it will be different for everyone, every time, so for them and for me it is scary and wonderful.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Proximity Festival

When: October 28 – November 8

Where: Art Gallery of WA, Perth

Tickets: $45 per program at www.proximityfestival.com