In 2020, Essex Book Festival went somewhere we’d never been before…underwater.

The event was a collaboration between Joel Cahen of Wet Sounds and Chris Adam and Andrew Wright of the Resonance arts collective in Chelmsford and Colchester-based sound-artist Frazer Merrick. Visuals by SDNA and lighting by Joe Lucas.

Together, they transformed Riverside swimming pool, Chelmsford, with soundscapes both above the surface and underwater, to produce an immersive audio-visual performance.

The event was inspired by the novel The Drowned World by JG Ballard. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic future where due to climate change the city of London has been submerged underwater. The sparsely inhabited world above has turned into a thriving tropical environment.

The event proved to be bizarre, magical and astonishing.