Hu­man­ity meets science

Macclesfield Express - - BEFORE THE BENCH -

RE­VIEW

SCIENCE, music, and art col­lided at Jo­drell Bank’s Blue­dot Fes- tival.

Poet Tony Walsh opened the Lovell stage, which stands in the shadow of its name­sake tele­scope.

The poet re­cited ‘This Is The Place’ at the vigil for the Manch­ester Arena at­tack, and it went on to sym­bol­ise the city’s sense of de­fi­ance and civic pride. Here though, Walsh kept his ma­te­rial strictly science-in­spired, with a cap­ti­vat­ing read­ing of ‘Zeros and Ones’, a whirl- wind his­tory of the uni­verse, life and every­thing.

The poem was a fit­ting start to the fes­ti­val.

Not just for its science-y lan­guage and in­ter­ga­lac­tic con­tent, but for its rous­ing be­lief in com­mu­nity and hu­man­ity - a strong theme through­out Blue­dot.

The Mira­coco Lu­mi­nar­ium, for ex­am­ple, coaxes vis­i­tors out of their com­fort zone and into a shared space of light and music.

Vis­i­tors en­ter the huge tent in groups, and in­side a labyrinth of cir­cu­lar spa­ces en­cour­ages unity. Peo­ple lie on the floor, re­cline in al­coves and re­set their bound­aries in an other-worldly en­v­i­ron- ment. Else­where, dis­cus­sions blaze as some of the bright­est minds de­bate top­ics around science, tech­nol­ogy and cul­ture. In a meet­ing of science and literature, Dr Rob Ap­pleby, Adam Marek, Sara Mait­land, and Adam Roberts ex­plore science fic­tion writ­ing, from read­ing ex­cerpts to re­veal­ing their writ­ing pro­cesses.

Many are here for the music, with in­die rock­ers the Pix­ies, en­ter­tain­ing thou­sands on a driz­zly Fri­day night, be­fore the clouds rolled back to re­veal blue skies and bathe the fes­ti­val site in glo­ri­ous sun­shine ahead of a thun­der­ous set by techno head­lin­ers Or­bital on Satur­day.

The dance tents are packed out from the mo­ment dance pi­o­neers Left­field gave a thrilling run through of their clas­sic 90’s al­bum Leftism to kick things off on Fri­day teatime. The only dis­ap­point­ment is the un­ex­plained lack of move­ment from the real star of the show, the Lovell Tele­scope which tow­ers over the fes­ti­val while exploring gal­ax­ies far away.

Ru­mours cir­cu­late that a ball-bear­ing prob­lem has re­sulted in it re­main­ing bolt up­right through­out the week­end and pre­vent- ing it from pirou­et­ting and re­veal­ing its mighty face to the crowds be­low.

Nev­er­the­less it re­mains an im­pres­sive and in­spir­ing sight es­pe­cially af­ter night fall when it’s huge frame is dec­o­rated by stun­ning light show and a full moon looks on in ap­proval from afar lighting up the site.

Sec­ond time vis­i­tors can be heard com­ment­ing on how it seems a lot busier than 2016’s event.

And with its pop­u­lar­ity ap­par­ently grow­ing, this unique ad­di­tion to the UK fes­ti­val scene looks like it could be a stel­lar suc­cess for years to come. Lucy Lovell and Gareth Tid­man

Scott M Salt

Blue­dot Fes­ti­val hap­pens against the back­drop of the Lovell Tele­scope

Scott M Salt

The Wish­ing Tree within the Blue Moon art in­stal­la­tion

Jody Hart­ley

Pix­ies on the Lovell Stage

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