Bedroom Frequencies is Cindy Islam’s newest piece, commissioned by Tramway as part of this year’s Take Me Somewhere festival – Glasgow’s celebration of innovative and contemporary international performance. This piece was created in response to a girl growing up in a strict and violent household and the freedom she found in her small bedroom, where imagination and dreams could roam free.
The bedroom environment is constructed with walls of patterned sheets, a couple of lamps and several mirrors. The piece includes no spoken text, but is extremely visual and aesthetically enjoyable, with projections and digital patterns overlaying the screen and spotlighting Islam as she dances.
Bedroom Frequencies is presented as an interactive 360-degree film, which is appropriately freeing in line with the themes of the production. The audience are given control over which visual elements they spend their time focused on and, in turn, how they perceive the piece. Islam periodically glitches or fades out of existence and presents in different outfits and positions depending on the angle which you are viewing from. The mirrors, which feel psychologically important for Islam to witness her own freedom, also tend to reflect a different version of the girl; the one constant is her slow, rhythmic movement.
The interactive 360 medium assists in engaging the audience in quite a passive piece, as there is not a lot of active storytelling in Bedroom Frequencies. That is not to say that the piece lacks depth; there is so much meaning behind the creation of the piece, in fact. Islam uses shifts in light, sound, textures, and movement to express her escape from a hostile environment, as she blurs the lines between reality and imagination.
Most of the premise of Bedroom Frequencies is discovered through external reading, however, as the piece itself feels largely reflective rather than informative. It is the role of the audience to unpack what they are witnessing within the context of what they already know and, as such, you will get as much out of the show as you put in. The experience feels similar to visiting an art exhibit, with the 30-minute running time being more of a recommendation than an instruction. An unknowing passer-by may take a glance and appreciate its appealing aesthetic for a moment or two, but only those who invest time and thought are going to truly appreciate the artist’s work.
Bedroom Frequencies is a very thought-provoking piece which will take you on an emotional journey if you let it. It may feel somewhat jarring at first, particularly whilst adjusting to the 360 format, but if you surrender yourself to Islam’s surreal vision, then it proves to be a beautiful experience.
Bedroom Frequencies is playing online until 29 May 2021. For more information and tickets, see Take Me Somewhere festival online.