In my new work titled "Infinite Replay of One's Own Self-Destruction," I recorded a performance done in my studio of destroying one of two stereo speakers with tools in my studio normally used for making things. On one hand, it replays the opposite condition of Robert Morris' 1961 work "Box with the Sound of Its Own Making" in the context of a post-internet condition. His work played with modernist ideas of artisinal means of production whilst this works deals with issues of seizure and moments of disequilibrium. The vintage stereo speakers that I use are like fraternal twins. My performance destroys one and the aural record of it is replayed in the remaining speaker infinitely in a loop. The remaining speaker suffers the trauma of its partner’s demise endlessly, and the effect is to create an affective psychopathology. The noise produced is the sound of that incomprehensible trauma: strident, anarchic and painful.
There are a number of presentations of the work. First, as a unique object, the remaining speaker is set alone on a small stage and faces a mirror, the front surface staring obliquely upon its own image. It becomes a kind of anthropomorphized subject regarding itself in the virtual space of the mirror, to see itself as a phantom double. The speaker in the reflective surface represents the eternal return of the phantom and the noise of the performance echoes in the ears of the spectator who views the scenario. As such, it is contingent and some sort of soundtrack. The second presentation is in groups of speakers, either three or five, in which the display of its lost partner is strewn upon the floor in front or to the side of it. An aural environment is created in which the former stereo of two speakers has been replaced with a sound condition, with three sources in which the spectator can find the center of that space or walk around each one to hear each separately.
Why do you think this is a participatory installation and, coming back to Rancière, what kind of spectatorship does it delineate?
Noise itself is a political gesture as it resists the institutional conditions of music. Noise is a form of the pluripotential. It represents all the possibilities of sound that can be, and it is from it that all cultural models which sample it discover music. How is this accomplished? Since noise destroys the already-formed networks of auditory information by introducing relations that are foreign and dissonant, it makes it difficult to be absorbed and understood. The spectator is the conduit of its spectral qualities and the agent for its transformation. It represents the space of subjective possibility and creativity. The spectator is, in this case, the ultimate spectator that Rancière lays out for us: each subject is an active participant in the production of individual meaning from noise. Although in my installation the audience is active and mobile, this is not a prerequisite condition.
Even the immobile subject sitting in a chair in the audience can experience the emancipating effects of noise. Noise, by its meaningless repetitions and un-channeling auditory sensations, frees the listener’s imagination, rather than being the passive listener/performer listening to the highly organized and instrumentalized notes and melodies of mainstream music. This is what makes it political as Jacques Attali says in his book Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Once set free, the spectator is able to create a self-signifying meaningfulness and comprehension. John Cage's famous piece four minutes and 33 seconds is a case in point. As the moments of silence are filled with the abstracted and anarchic noises of the audience squirming in their seats, breathing heavily or dropping pencils, it provides the conditions of participating in the work and actually makes the score. As such, what was beyond creates a new order!
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