By Emily Oldfield

Meet the man behind Manchester’s most prominent audio-visual meetup, a creator bringing VJing to range of venues across the city, and beyond. Manchester-based Sean Clarke is a creative who is continuously pushing the parameters of sound and vision, from developing interactive projected storytelling which immerses the viewer to being skilled in the art of motion graphic design.

Now he is due to bring a truly unique experience to an evening of ‘Hauntology’ - as part of Not Quite Light Weekend 2019 in collaboration with HAUNT Manchester at Manchester Metropolitan University – which will take place at The White Hotel, Salford on Thursday 28 March.

Sean Clarke Image

Sean is the founder of Test Card, Manchester’s unique audio-visual meet up, building a community for artists to explore new techniques, equipment and ideas across audio-visual performance. Whilst attention to audio means an immersive approach to sound, the visual element can involve everything from lighting to intense video mapping. Test Card was previously hosted at Texture, the much-loved Northern Quarter event space on Lever Street where Sean was Creative Director.

During the time Texture operated as a venue, Sean strived to provide audio-visual content within the space for a range of clients. From fantastic light shows, to mapping an array of custom-made content against the atmospheric brickwork… Sean certainly has an eye for what it takes to bring events alive. These have included fashion shows, cinema nights and launch parties – and he continues as the creative director of a number of events, as well as working independently.

Responding to place and location is also a resonant part of Sean’s work, and previous features have involved him filming various architectural points in the city, before collaborating with musical artists to create a soundscape (this was the case, for example, during the Test Card event: Sean Clarke & SGNL : Conductor / 3 (Live A/V)).

Having studied in Salford and a long-term resident of Manchester, it is perhaps no wonder that the cityscape often informs Sean’s creativity. In turn, his appearance at the Thursday night of Not Quite Light Weekend 2019 is sure to leave a lasting impression…

Hello Sean. Can you perhaps tell us a bit more about your creative work and how you gained an interest in it?

As a visual artist, my practice utilizes cutting-edge techniques and software, to examine new ways of translating sound into light. Alongside my artistic practice, the main focus of my work is to support the growth of projects which examine the nature of the community. Exploring various ways to produce events, which enable relationships to build through performance and sharing of culture.

“From an early age I had a love for film. I became particularly interested in understanding how directors used technology to capture and present their perspective of the world. How we tell stories and express our ideas continues to evolve with the development of technology. As it becomes more accessible, the ability of artists from various backgrounds and cultures to express their perspective of the world has grown.

“Some of the most exciting places where you can view this experimentation are in the underground music scene. With a strong ethos of DIY, artists experiment with new sounds and ways of transforming space through visual art. This is the space which enabled me to fully embrace my experimental side and embrace new techniques of working with digital content.”

Sean Clarke at Work

How does it feel to be involved in the upcoming Not Quite Light Weekend – and why do you think an event like this is important?

It's a pleasure to be involved this year. From the conversations I have had so far, the festival has a lot of ambition for the future and I am excited to be part of the team making it happen.”

What have been some of your creative inspirations?

“I have always been very inspired by creative waves and scenes around the world. Of course, Manchester's history is a massive influence for me, but I also romanticise Berlin in the ’80s, where so many pioneers in electronic music and art were born.”

As the founder of Test Card, you are known to celebrate audio-visual creativity and provide artists with a platform too. Why did you choose to do this in Manchester?

“It is more the case Manchester allowed me the opportunity to celebrate audio-visual creativity. For me it has always been a perfect breeding ground for collaborations to grow. My position as creative director of texture also played a massive part in the ability to support the scene.”

A number of aspects of your own work (and collaborations) have involved psychogeographic practice and the inspiration of urban space. How would you say Manchester and Salford have inspired your creativity?

“Space and how we occupy that space has always been at the heart of my work. Back in university, my sole practice was film. I was obsessed with finding new ways of documenting that space and how we build the rhythm within it. As I have got older, that passion has grown to include the production of live events, exploring how we use lighting and projection in space to change the environment. So rather than document live events, I now explore various ways to make them happen, using technology as my tool.”