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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  February 2011

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING February 2011

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Subject:

Re: the object of performance

From:

Johannes Goebel <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Johannes Goebel <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 3 Feb 2011 17:32:55 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (69 lines)

Dear all,

This is the other Johannes writing, the one coming from music - and
re-iterating to maybe have a closer look at music, especially when words
like "score" are used.
Scores have been around in western music (sorry for repeating myself) for
something like 600 - 800 years. And they were never the "main thing" - they
allowed speculation and construction of music, that was to sound. The
eventually "sounding piece" is the main thing. And the sounds changed with
interpretations over centuries, more and more details were notated up to the
mid 20th century - but the difference between what was notated and what
sounded was always understood as the life of music or musical life. In music
we talk about interpretation and not about reconstruction.
All that changed in the second half of the 20th century with graphical
notation - from notating traditional music in the shape of a pear to
non-traditional graphical stimuli for musicians. And then the scores written
out in words with instructions what to do, what to listen to and what to
react to. This is when concept and sound, object and time-based experience
started to potentially live in different domains.
Only technical reproduction over the past 120 years made it possible to
store sound outside of time - but still music only comes alive in time.
Staring at an LP, CD if iPod doesn't quite make the music come alive.
Music always needs time and a score, notation or instruction has never been
identical with the performance. And for instance even the track in the past
50 years to perform old, old music on period instruments with playing
techniques how they might have been back then, are not reconstructions but
new interpretations.

The words of theater plays have always been edited, rearranged, cut,
expanded - a usual practice. Only re-mixing brought a similar effect to
music. But a collage by Max Ernst is something different than a remixed
song. In music we talk also about arrangements of pieces, which take the
main ingredients and touch them up with different colors. There is a major
difference between how theater plays and music are treated in the process of
interpretation, in performing it.

Coming to fluxus, which is that which flows, I guess. It's integrating a
time line. And then creating a multitude of scores, prescription, described
actions, with words or without. Is the "score" the "piece" or the
"performance" - many different points of view on this.

Who cares if we play Bach like Bach heard it. We play it over and over again
and it's "always the same and not the same". And playing a captured
recording is always the same but we experience it (hopefully) different each
time. The delicate relationship between score, interpretation, sound and
experience as in music, theater and dance may bear some interesting pointers
to the discussion of what is subsumed under the visual arts, which got
injected a time-line, and performance art.

And certainly then the audience and the location and context come into play.
Watching a tape or listening to music from stored recording always misses
the social environment - so it is bound to be a different perception and
experience and whatever we make out of it.

Do it again? Well, maybe one should have a festival where all those old
"scores" from performance art are newly played/interpreted once everyone is
dead who can remember the original performances and once the video tapes
have fallen apart. 

And then we can find out what might be interesting and for which reasons and
what is not interesting to perform but to just read or imagine. And the most
brilliant compositions in music can be unbearable if the performer "doesn't
get it", cannot create the presence in and through the performance. I think
all this is quite simple an the level of performance and interpretation
(bringing it into time) and very complicated once we start to analyze. And I
think interdisciplinary thinking or dialogue might help.

(The other) Johannes

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