A wild, high-tech, rock-smashing journey to the Neolithic origins of mining
Rocks, beats and geological time: this is a violent, fun, loud and lyrical experience, with projection design from award-winning Limbic Cinema. Copper mining has fuelled the growth of human civilization for the last 10,000 years. In Megalith a silent physical performer and digital sound artist explore the ever-growing trajectory of mining and technological development, and what it means in the 21st century.
Playfully duetting to Deep-Time techno, metamorphic soundscapes and the Internet of Things, performers Charles Sandford and Xavier Velastin journey deep down to the origins of mining. Harnessing Neolithic tools to smash up to 250kg of rocks, Herald Angel winners MECHANIMAL explore the mysterious activity of bashing stone and getting metals.
‘Beautiful, contemplative … a remarkable and urgent show’ Guardian (Vigil 2019)
Every piece of technology we own has come from rock. But copper (the first metal to be mined) has a vital role right now. In transitioning from fossil fuels, global copper production (concentrated in Chile) must sky-rocket to make the batteries and cables for electrification. But does more extraction continue a questionable trajectory of more manufacture, more stuff, more economic growth… and thereby more inequality and waste? What of alternatives such as ‘urban mining’ (recycling of metals from tech waste)?
Rather than being an info-heavy show, Megalith views these issues through metaphor, creating a simple theatrical poem. The Neolithic culture that started mining also created stoneworks consisting of a single line leading into concentric circles (eg Stonehenge). Megalith explores thisline-into-circleform: how might it offer a timely metaphor, when the need to shift from an extractive, linear relationship with Earth’s resources is ever more urgent?
See a short trailer here www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQab-u7Q8I0
The show was developed in collaboration with researchers from Bristol University and The Natural History Museum and made through research journeys to Neolithic copper mines and stone circles across the UK. All rocks, technology and other materials used in Megalith will be effectively and responsibly recycled.
MECHANIMAL’s Director, Tom Bailey, said ‘Copper is a vital but little-known part of the present energy and ecological crises, and even the Russia-Ukraine war. We look to find creative and fascinating ways of engaging people with this.’
‘Memorable, a requiem against a clock counting down’‘★★★★ Scotsman (Vigil 2019)
MECHANIMAL won a Herald Angel in 2018 for Zugunruhe. The Bristol-based, the company’s work explores life on our changing planet. It tours performances (created with a range of artists and researchers) nationally and internationally.
‘Extraordinary … moving and enlightening’ New Scientist (Zugunruhe 2018)