This is the live performance of a work which emerged in a workshop at the School of Fine Art in Altea, Spain, on the 15th and 16th of November. I entirely owe the idea for the methodology to an infinitely more complex and musical work by Neil Evensen and Lin Chi-Wei with the Musarc Choir which can be seen at https://youtu.be/weazrSyx6fU.
The participant/performers generated their text for a contrapuntal choral reading in the improvisatory workshop session, first passing the blank paper tape round the group and testing out a series of self-generated rules – the read/write/erase choice, and other rules based on themes and questions, sonority, rhythm and musicality until a clear set of parameters for a satisfyingly “performable” text emerged.
I brought in, as well as the paper tape, an improvised “visual metronome” to set the pace for the readers – it was an incandescent bulb switched on and off by a micro-switch triggered by a cam wheel turned by a small electric motor – the light flashed on and off in a slightly irregular sequence. The students improvised a stand for it out of two chairs, some scavenged wood and a few clamps. I didn’t touch it at any point but it looked just like a piece of my work... how could that be? It seems to imply that, at some level we do not have ideas, the ideas have us.
The form of the final performance was also determined by the participants – at an agreed point they took up their positions, standing in a circle and read the text, the rhythm controlled by the flashing light which also provided the sole illumination by which to read; they started with one voice, then two and so on until they were all speaking with the final word – an inarticulate animal cry – passed along to the last person. They dropped the tape where it was and walked away, completing the work. It is theirs now as well as mine.