30 Jun 2012

Impromptu Soundart Piece

Raqs Collective: 'Now, Elsewhere'
Today I spontaneously performed a piece of sound art, in the style of the 70s conceptual movement in unwitnessed, public performances.
I find with audio in the city it's best to pick somewhere with walls as the acoustics work to your advantage.

Thus walking behind someone who's ear was slightly but clearly pricked, I used the walls of a pedestrian walkway to amplify my piece. I lifted phrases from people passing us in the other direction - for as we walked down a pedestrian walkway to the tube station, a line of people walked past us up towards the street. The phrases must be uttered with a ring to them, so that they might be heard over the other voices, yet still blend in.

I used phrases such as:
"This is my Patch"
 "Everyone's got one now"
"Surely that can't be the end of it?"
With my squash racket poking out of the back of my bag, at the bottom I accidentally touched one of two men standing together drinking beer underground, near the entrance to the station (who drinks beer and socialises in such places, if they're not begging? This in fact makes a for an unusually relaxed atmosphere, when stations in central London are a normally nightmare of rushing and crowding). I turned and apologised and as I walked away he called out to me "How was the squash game or was it badminton?" He seemed unsure as to whether I'd respond. "It was squash" I smiled confidently, having to call louder as I walked away. "I lost two games". He made commiserating noises and I turned back to the man I'd previously been walking behind. This new level of volume seemed too much for him, for he moved deliberately out of earshot. I realised the men drinking beer had made themselves part of the performance, setting a new tone and ending the piece but I was glad. While fear seems to prevent people from interacting in the city, any small act like this I consider a microcosmic step towards a possible utopia.