Now that the hubbub of Blaubart, a recent musical theater project, is subsiding, I can settle back into the uncertainty of finding my own (questionably) meaningful path as a writer, sound artist, critic, person.
To that end I frequented the monthly Certain Sundays at where artists of the experimental musician ilk commune. Honestly the main draw was a favorite sound culture writer, Brandon Labelle, whose video piece was paired with a performance by sound artist Lou Mallozzi from Chicago. Both thematize language, attention and perception their work. Lou did some poem like pieces in which he spoke a sentence interspersed with the scratchy sounds of an old effects record. Or perhaps one should say he played the record for us and filled the pauses between effects with one word each, forming, over the course of the entire record, a complete sentence.
In another he read a list of ologies with ology removed. I found this beautiful as my mind was wrenched from one prefix to another; latinate stubs which invoked just enough meaning and imagery to open a small sliver of understanding (like light through tiny rips in a curtain) before the next phonic amputee was uttered and pulled me away from that image of a nearly formed idea.
The O’s for example: …Ocean Od Odonat Odont Oec Oen Oik Olfact Oligochaet Ombr Omnib Onc Oneir Onomasi Onomat Ont Onychopath O Ophid Ophi Ophthalm Opson Opt Orchid Organ Orism Ornith Or Orrh Orthopter Oryct Osm Osphresi Oste Osteopath Otolaryng Ot Otorhinolaryng Our Ur Ov… this was my favorite section to hear.
In another piece, a small bright light shone into the audience as Lou stood on one side making a ‘s’ sound, as he moved slowly across the light the ‘s’ became a ‘ps’ the ‘ps’ a ‘clipse’ then the fully articulated word as Lou himself eclipsed the small light with an “eclipse” and continued to the other side of the stage, the word “eclipse” eclipsing again as the light was uncovered.
LaBelle’s performance was a video of the artist putzing around at home with a voice over of a distracted monologue. The voice (perhaps the person in the video’s, perhaps not) drifted from one subject to another, Cage’s 4’33’’ the cloudy marshmallow fluff in chocolate ice cream, the daily nothing, going to the post office… until the listener/watcher is lulled into a half attentive state of bored interest, almost sleeping during a dull dream sequence in which the character on screen naps and piano music plays noncommittally, a lullaby merging with ACDC.
The piece was about this itself, the state of our attention, our expectations about performance, our own attention in the everyday turn of activities or non-activities. Cloudy it was called and that is just what it was.