Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Sound Installations from Composers at U of L
Last week, I spent an hour and a half hanging different colored airplanes from the ceiling between the two wings of the music school. It provided an opportunity to think about the sound scape that I was helping install, about the nature of art in space in particular, and about the art consumption habits of music school students. I'm not going to discuss the installations themselves, I'll leave that for the composers, James Young and Leah Sproul Pulatie, to post comments and explain (and also link to any photos or videos they have).
The first thought I had was how nice it was to be helping create something. I am not in any way trying to take credit for any of the ideas or more than a small pittance of the work involved. I simply mean that, despite the fact that I spend most of my day studying music, but very little time making any of my own. It was nice to feel how a composer must feel, as they bring something genuinely new into the world. Despite all logistical and reception problems, regardless of whether or not anyone in the world likes the work, creation is still important. Both installations took inordinate amounts of work, and both will be up around a month, and then will probably never be seen again. The courage to do that work for such a (seemingly, in this late capitalist consumer culture) little material reward is remarkable. I'd do well to remember this, and the small taste of how it feels, as I go on to teach and critique.
The second thought I had was about these works, in their spaces. Both installations were designed for a specific space. Both are spaces that I see nearly every day, and never think of. What I've found matters to me the most regarding these installations is the fact that now, I notice and think of these spaces. It's not merely that there is art happening in them. It is my awareness being broadened, forced to (re-) incorporate marginalized areas that I had before not thought of, areas which will forever be changed (even after the sculptures are taken down) in my mind because of the presence of these installations. I've found that this thinking is more marked with Jame's installation, because of the nature of the space. It is a transitional space, a way of getting from one arrival to another. If anything, it is normally seen as a nuisance, as a space that needs to be traversed before "more" can happen. Now, I am conscious of every step I take, and even find myself lingering in this transitory space, a space I would have no other reason to remain in, to take in more of the installation. I also find myself thinking more about similar spaces I see everyday and pay no mind to.
My third thought involves how students in music school, who will be in one sense of the word professional artists, received the installation of the sculpture. I understand how it could be annoying to have the walkway closed off, as it forces someone to take time out of their day in order to detour, and I don't honestly know how I would have felt about it if I had been in a bad mood (or not known the composer). I heard a LOT of complaining, which, inconvenience aside, is almost inexcusable. It would seem that, as future professional artists, each student here would be trying to consume as much as possible, if for no other reason than because they are curious. As I learned as I talk, write, and teach about music that I love, and as I ask others for music they love, they are a terrifyingly small number of practicing musicians who are actively listening, and that alarms me very much.