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An immersive laser and sound experience by Chris Levine world premiers at Caernarfon Castle this October in collaboration with acclaimed composer and artist Gruff Rhys.

Annwn, born from ‘iy project’, is a revolutionary event bringing together pioneering laser art, sound and nature on an epic scale. The world premier takes place at Caernarfon Castle on 27 October and continues in residency until 29 October 2023.

Castell Caernarfon / ANNWN

Tickets available via Cadw and See TIckets — 

Sonic contributions have been specially created for Annwn by Welsh artist Gruff Rhys, drawn from his back catalogue, archive, and latest experiments. Unique sessions will see Gruff preview this material, joining ground-breaking light artist Chris Levine for extraordinary shows of sound and vision within the Castle walls.

The experience comprises a fully immersive, programmed performance of laser projection by Chris Levine, harmonised to a tapestry of beautiful elevating sound, composed exclusively for the event by Gruff Rhys. The resulting 90 minute sound-track has been woven together by one of the world’s leading 3D sound artists and resident spatial sound designer Marco Perry (Bjork).

During special sessions, Gruff Rhys will perform live with Chris Levine’s laser work in special performances, inspired by the Annwn vision. Annwn means the Otherworld within the Welsh mythology of the Mabinogi.

Chris Levine

Conceptualised by light artist Chris Levine

Born out of ‘iy project’ his work with Eden Project, Cornwall, Annwn is the brainchild of internationally lauded light artist Chris Levine, who first came to prominence with his famous meditative portrait of The Queen, The Lightness Of Being and subsequently for his innovative use of light with such acts as Massive Attack, Grace Jones and Jon Hopkins.

With Annwn Chris Levine and his collaborators Edenlab launch a revolutionary new event format with an ambitious immersive experience which harnesses the power of laser, sound, people and place to create a transformational experience.

Chris Levine says:

“On one level, Annwn is the best laser and sound show you could ever hope to witness, but we are bringing together some of the world’s top creative and technical talents to create something which is radically different from anything you will have ever experienced in a truly spectacular setting!

It was originally commissioned as the centrepiece of Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary in 2020. We are thrilled it is now returning to its roots and premiering in Wales."

Annwn is a powerful new kind of live immersive artwork, with all of the excitement of two of the world’s top artists performing through progressive sound and laser technologies, but with no main stage in the traditional live concert sense. The idea is to allow audiences to focus on the  immersive multi-sensory qualities of the experience unfolding around them in 360 degrees.

Adds Chris Levine:

“In creating this work, we are conscious that the sound and light elements are forms of energy and the the audience literally tunes in to the art. By putting our attention onto the pure laser and audio waveforms, we can enter into a meditative state and the experience becomes quite otherworldly.”

At Caernarfon Castle, multiple high powered laser systems and 3D sound arrays will be installed around the ramparts. The experience inside the castle walls will be directed and controlled by the artists and technologists from a specially designed control position adjacent to the performance space.

Chris Levine’s pioneering laser work projects hypnotic light forms over the audience and onto the heritage architecture and high into the night sky. The work is beautifully choreographed, with the laser imagery playing out over the castle walls, through changing weather conditions and natural phenomena - rain, clouds, mist and people - creating a truly exciting and sensorial show.

Annwn sioe ysgafn / laser show

Gruff says:

“This project has been bubbling for years now and I’m happy to finally have the opportunity to make it a reality after hitting a wall in the lock-down period.

I've worked with the sound designer Marco Perry (who has worked extensively with Bjork among others on spatial sound projects) on creating new versions of some of my songs that are more repetitive and ambient. Songs such as Taranau Mai, Distant Snowy Peaks, Arogldarth and some unique pieces too for the event.”

Marco Perry says:

"I thought everyone could perceive sound as shapes and forms as well, then quite early on I realised that not everyone did. We physically hear frequencies, vibrations, reflections. It’s your imagination that allows you to also see sound."

Marco is a Sound artist & designer. A music producer of 3D audio recordings and a spatial audio specialist. With his colleague David Clayton as “The Mighty Monks” they’ve crafted and mixed sound treatments to provide a sonic landscape for Annwn. Contributing musically with “sonic glue” and holding the experience together, on this  journey with Gruff and Chris.

The event is being staged in support of Samaritans Cymru. Following an unprecedented period of disruption and uncertainty, we know that many people have experienced trauma and poor mental health. The pandemic has widened inequalities for many people in Wales and those who were vulnerable at the beginning are now facing higher levels of distress than ever before.

Neil Ingham, Executive Director for Samaritans Cymru said:

“We’re really excited and grateful to the team at Annwn for choosing Samaritans Cymru as their charity. This innovative event seeks to bring people together to share a unique experience and has a strong focus on human connection. This is a core value of Samaritans – we believe connection is a strong protective factor for suicide risk and we believe human compassion can change and save lives."