Video (color, stereo sound)
Original format: U-matic
Running time: 5:30 min.
Color video camera, microphone and closed-circuit video monitor
Tale Enclosure is a real time fragment selected from three hours of recordings made at the Stained Glass Studio in Barrytown, New York, where Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? (Come On Petunia), 1984, was also taped. During the recording, performers George Quasha and Charles Stein monitored themselves on a closed-circuit system responding to a continuously changing image of themselves created by Gary Hill’s camera work. The piece begins with a short written text (“axial poem”) by Quasha which fades in and out one word at a time—the etching of the “tale enclosure”—as Quasha and Stein begin vocalizing from the very grain of language. The improvisational search for voices passes through recognizable swarms of phonemes with a word or phrase briefly coming into focus now and then. Camera movements and continual focal play mirror the highly nuanced vocal expression, tightly coupled with body and facial movements. At times the image plane fills with rapid hand movements (“Somamudra”), blurred due to their speed and appearing like fire. The voices build upon one another, rising and falling in volume and pitch, sometimes in unison, other times in “conversation,” in a seeming attempt to let the primary roots of language speak for themselves.
An Art of Limina: Gary Hill’s Works and Writings, by George Quasha and Charles Stein (Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa, 2009)
Performers: George Quasha and Charles Stein