Festival Interdisciplinary

T:BA Digest DAY 10: Be Happy About the Mundane

Another beautifully sunny day; it has been an awesome September. I recall last year being a challenge for T:BA with unseasonal rain. The warmth and sun this year has been fantastic. Yes, with this opportunity, curator/musician/artist Claudia Meza was lucky, because her free outdoor concert, based essentially on a quote from John Cage that encapsulates his whole ethic about the sounds of daily life, really depended on decent weather. Cage believes that the sounds of life are as compelling as any musical sounds; that arrangement is the only thing standing in the way of music.

The concert featured local avant-garde heavyweights, Daniel Menche, Matthew Carlson, Luke Wyland, Mary Sutton, Eric Mast, Holland Andrews, Thomas Torson, and Meza each performing new music based on the “natural” soundscape of their choosing, only it had to be a local public space. What comes out is a lot of industrial sound, often psychedelic and atmospheric. It would have really been boring to hear field recordings, simply laid out. I know Menche has been really in to that lately, but he seems to find amazing sounds and capture them perfectly, but I missed his set because I wanted to make Chelfitsch. Mary Sutton had the best piece, if you ask me: a complete chamber ensemble with cascades of cadence and repeating marimba melody definitely with that urban sound; sorry to compare but it had a Terry Riley and Philip Glass sound to it. I love those composers, so great. Luke Wyland came through with that AU sound, which is really just that Luke sound. He really is a self-made musician with range and distinction.

I left during Carlson’s set. What he was putting out was really interesting and carried that line between the natural occurring soundscape and a musical arrangement with synthesis. The complete experience extended beyond music, so it was valuable to walk around and hear the music from different angles, listening to the reflection, allowing the urban industrial sounds to coalesce with the piece. Also, the architectural perspectives are compelling. Definitely, Meza selected that site for that feature. This was appreciated as I walked away, to my car to WHS.

Chelfitsch performs a trio of vignettes: Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and Farewell Speech, in that order. The trio humorously challenges the viewer with the monotony of daily life in the office buildings of Tokyo, Japan. Set in an office, temp workers go through these mundane stories and discussions round about in a loop of boring patter: but it’s funny. Sometimes though, I just wanted to get out of there. But, it was funny enough to keep me seated. Their movements are almost uncomfortable to watch as well. The dialogue is played out with bizarre movement, mostly developed from common gestures and stretches.

In Hot Pepper, three office temps are discussing what restaurant to choose for a farewell party to another temp. Hot Pepper is an entertainment magazine released in Japan. They discuss what restaurant to choose and how to choose it. One of them goes in to conspiracy, obstinate in the face of this choice. They are unable to choose. Air Conditioner is about a woman who is frustrated with sitting in front of the vent because some co-worker controls the air conditioner, placing it on High at 23 degrees (73.4 Fahrenheit), her receptive co-worker urges her to call the police. One of his movements: bending over and cigarettes falling out of his front pocket. It closes with the Farewell Speech: the temp whose party was in discussion before gives a speech. She relates to her shoes, characterizing them and imagining this world happening in her shoes. The speech goes on and on as she explains this neurotic fantasia. That’s the end of it.

Before hitting the dance floor, final night of THE WORKS, there was a visual performance by Alex Cecchetti. Art School is teaching artists to communicate their work. Many artists are getting by entirely on their ability to communicate the idea verbally, through social media, essay, journals, whatever, anything but through the work itself. I am not judging Alex this quickly, but she is evidence of that. Although ironically, what made her performance fun and interesting was her struggle to communicate. Basically, Alex stands and talks about her work and the process of it.

The sense of humor and willingness to laugh at the work puts her in good with me. She talks about taking a U, turning it around, then turning it around again until you have US. The wall is painted with blackberries and US. Then she demonstrated how an ancient druid symbol resembles bunny ears running around and around in a circle; rabbits run in circles and that’s their survival technique. The “aha!” moment comes in applying movement to symbols and discovering meaning that perhaps is more mundane than we actually want to accept about it; yet the movement is the profound part. See the pictures below to get the picture.

The evening was already beginning to feel like that solemn last night of a festival. Fade to Mind was not particularly well attended and maybe the jungle, industrial, drum and bass sounds were a bit intimidating for your common T:BA pass holder, who may want something like House or some ethnic dance theme. But there was definitely enough interest and excitement for the dance floor to come alive: I danced my ass off, got myself buzzed on whiskey and Sessions. The visual aspect was a lot of computer animation, psychedelic and dark, more acid than mushrooms, know what I mean? One wonders when we dance and celebrate imagery of that sort (skulls, flames etc.) then what are we conjuring? For me, not much more than dancing my ass off, so it’s all good.

Once I was thoroughly worked out, I went back to the beer garden to see what I might conjure over there before my final departure of THE WORKS. Soak it in, just hang out a little longer and see what happens. Not much, it was getting late, but I ended up with this trio of kids about my age. I swear I know them, they find me familiar; we know we run in the same circles, but it’s not obvious yet. The blonde is seducing both me and her friend or boyfriend too; I can’t tell what she’s doing exactly. Is she performing? She’s cute, am I supposed to do something? If so, I didn’t read my script on time. If she isn’t cute, am I still supposed to do something? I guess not, I practice the Tao of Steve anyway.

And in the end, all the way until last call and my beer being taken literally out of my hands, I shared a Camel cigarette with Erin Boberg. This was my first casual moment with her in five years. Somehow that felt like a step forward. One final day of performance, two more weeks of exhibition time, a salon or two, then it’s over for the season. I really dived in this year and I haven’t even looked at the galleries.

Sean Ongley

By Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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