Free day today! That meant lots of YouTube videos in the morning, and then a tour of the Rosen House and the Arts/Music Center at Caramoor. Basically, it was a smaller, woodier, Spanishier, more out-of-the-way Hearst Castle. We toured the grounds and saw all of the sound art (REALLY avant garde acoustic things scattered over the ground. One was a set of noisemaker speakers hooked up to solar panels. The sound changed with changing ambient brightness. Another was about six pianos taken apart and put back together in a sort of shack that acted as a mechanical music box. It was really REALLY cool. And weird. Really weird.) After the tour, we got to see a concert by Igudesman and Joo, a comedy act/musical duet. While the tour was nice, the concert got me really seriously thinking about something. Then later, I decided to do laundry, which made me really seriously thinking. So, I’ve decided to start a special segment in my blog reserved for these wonderful times I find myself waiting somewhat patiently for my lights to dry:
Laundry Room Insights
So, I’m at this concert, and because of the nature of the performance, I begin to think about the two people on stage much more as performers than as musicians. This definition, for me, carries a much broader set of responsibilities. For example, Igudesman and Joo had to actively maintain characters instead of just the poise of an onstage presence (anyone who is unfamiliar with the work of Igudesman and Joo might want to watch this for some context.) This led me to a realization about the future of live performances or exhibitions (yes, fine arts count for this particular argument)
Dammit, still not dry.
Consider, for a moment, the benefits and drawbacks of a recorded performance. You can carry it with you, literally. It’s accessible at any moment of any day, assuming your own availability. The quality stinks, though, and you don’t get the thrill of being immersed in a live performance. Nonetheless, I would agree that having a recorded performance is convenient.
I feel that all of these points and more have been discussed at length, so instead, I’ll be focusing on a different aspect of live performance, or any other art in which the audience comes to the performer: you are at the mercy of the artist. I don’t mean this in a particularly bad way. In today’s performance, I actually felt more so that I had entrusted Igudesman and Joo with my time and attention. Even this view requires a certain level of dependence on the behalf of the audience, though.
Seriously. My dryer doesn’t heat up. I totally hate this whole laundry thing.
What I like about this dependence is that it ensures that the audience gets an experience which includes all of the parts the artist intended the audience to experience. Take, for example, an album. (I am borrowing wisdom from Paul Lucckesi) One can listen to an album one of two ways: through from beginning to end in order with minimal or no stops, or piecemeal, picking and choosing the songs to listen to. With the rise of iTunes, this phenomenon was amplified, as one could even purchase only parts of an album—perhaps even just one song.
I’m not saying this way of listening is necessarily bad. I even do it…a lot. But what today showed me is that perhaps there is something to be said for the more “traditional” way of experiencing art: in the order, context, and quantity intended by the artist. As an artist too, this makes me wonder if I should spend more time thinking from an audience’s perspective and considering exactly what sort of experience I would like them to have.
I have to admit, I have this gut feeling that the writer in me is going to cringe when I go back and read this. The ideas feel piecemeal and non-directional. Then again, this isn’t strictly AP Comp, so if my organization isn’t spot on, I’m comfortable giving myself a little slack. Besides, It’s almost 11:00 and I’m getting really annoyed that my socks still aren’t dry. I’m just going to go for it and post. Apologies if it’s somewhat incoherent. I’m sure I’ll write more on the topic on my next visit to laundry land.