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Insight:  Venus Ex Machina & Xtrux, a juxtaposition of sound & cultural landscapes

Text by Irem Erkin

The L.E.V. Festival leads you on a journey through soul-stirring avant-garde sounds and a visual spectacle, forging a multidisciplinary and multicultural platform for emerging artists and viewers to engage in experimentation.

One of the highlights at the festival was the captivating collaboration between Venus Ex Machina and Xtrux. Venus Ex Machina, the artistic pseudonym of Nontokozo F. Sihwa, is a multifaceted talent known for her sound and music composition expertise. Her contributions extend across various projects, including releases on esteemed labels like AD93, NON Worldwide, and Optimo Music and groundbreaking installations showcased globally.  In 2021, she received the prestigious PRS Foundation Oram Award for her groundbreaking music and sound technologies work. With a background in mathematics, she brings boundless curiosity and exacting precision to her craft.

Venus Ex Machina’s artistic vision draws from her fascination with futurism, posthumanism, and the phenomenology of radio-related communication. These interests serve as the wellspring of her otherworldly and distinctive musical creations. 

During her performance at L.E.V. Matadero, her sonic artistry was complemented by the mesmerising audiovisual work of the Taiwanese multimedia art laboratory, Xtrux. Xtrux specialises in 3D animation and club culture, where their creative approach “probes extensively into the intricate interactions among the virtual world, digital identity, and Taiwanese folk beliefs.

They exchanged their respective works throughout their collaborative process and engaged in a creative dialogue about this project. Venus initially crafted the sound, after which Xtrux developed their concept and visualisation, drawing inspiration from her work. These cultural beliefs reflect the cumulative development within Taiwanese culture. In the virtual world of the future, there is the potential for these processes to be reinterpreted, giving rise to a novel reality.

Xtrux strongly believed that the fundamental essence in shaping a digital identity resides in preserving one’s sense of self, paralleling the idea that objects within the virtual domain ought to maintain a tangible connection and undergo transformation reflective of the physical world. The cumulative occurrence of similar events bears the potential to metamorphose into a distinct culture, offering individuals who identify with this culture the possibility of experiencing an alternative reality.

In the context of their artistic work, they have unveiled a plethora of Oriental elements, all of which have organically evolved from their personal life experiences. Their conviction lies in the belief that the Taiwanese audience can establish diverse connections with their memories and experiences through their interaction with the creation.

Unveiling their artwork before a non-Taiwanese audience marked a significant milestone for Xtrux, made possible through the L.E.V. Festival. Despite its deeply rooted cultural narrative, their art transcended cultural confines, resonating as a compelling and impactful narrative accessible to all.

(Media courtesy of L.E.V. festival. Photo credit: Estudio perplejo / Lukasz Michalak)
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