Report: Orbita - Poetics of Ether

October's Skanu Mezs festival for adventurous music took attendees on an extraordinary journey with Orbita, a collective of poets-come-artists founded in 1999. Comprising Alexander Zapol, Vladimir Leibgam, Arturs Punte, Vladimir Svetlov, Sergej Timofejev, and Zhorzh Uallik, Orbita is known for its multifaceted exploration of artistic realms, spanning poetry, sound and visual media.

The group's inception back in 1999. centered around a publishing project, blossoming into the creation of the Orbita almanac and later establishing a publishing house focused on bilingual (Latvian and Russian) editions of poetry and photography. Over the years, Orbita has evolved, delving into collective performance formats, sound art installations, and the fusion of text with moving images through video poetry.

As part of the "Skanu Mezs" tekhne project program, Orbita presented a mesmerizing performance titled "Echo Echo" and a sound art installation named "From the Air". They aimed to push the boundaries of conventional sound sources, exploring the conversion of various energies into audible material and using and upcycling readily-available materials and sources.

In the performance "Echo Echo", Orbita utilized WiFi and GSM networks, radio messages from enthusiasts worldwide, and various radio communications to unveil the wide-ranging radio ether and the ambient data that envelops our environment. Measurements of radiation, electromagnetic fields, infrasound, and city electrical grid fluctuations painted a sonic tapestry, occasionally revealing the voices of recently departed poets. The performance served as a profound immersion into the unseen waves of our surroundings.

The installation "From the Air" extended Orbita's sonic experimentation. Utilizing fishing rods as antennas, the installation collected and transformed ambient energy into beeps, creating a spatial sound grove within the venue. Orbita's show unfolded in a separate room at Hanzas Perons venue, the revamped old Riga Goods station. The installation remained in the space, offering a lingering sensory experience after the performance concluded.

alt text
image by Arturs Pavlovs