To spark discussion, the Walker invites local artists and critics to write overnight reviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, local artists Beatrix*JAR (Bianca Pettis and Jacob Aaron Roske) share their perspective on Saturday night’s performance by Tim Hecker + Oneohtrix Point Never. Agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments!
One question we ask in the context of our work as Beatrix*JAR is: What Could Sound Be? It’s a question we’ve asked for some time – seeking validation from someone…anyone who would listen.
Can you hear us?
What could sound be?
We started the night by getting a little lost before we found our way to a friend’s basement music jam. It was a cool November night & we settled to the warmth of playing drums with amplified guitar and bass. Having left our usual musical gear behind we contributed our voices by howling and growling and alternating between instruments at different points in the night. It was an intimate, rhythmic, informal, positive vibe. Sounds. Vibrations. Conversation. Laughter. A dog named Bear.
Before we knew it we were climbing the stairs to the McGuire Theatre at the Walker Art Center. The space, like a cosmic rocket ship of contemporary art, was buzzing with spectacled hipsters and audio aficionados.
Our ticket was torn and we walked around the theatre searching for the best place to take in the show. We decided to view it from the top floor, which made us feel a bit like we were in a modern opera house.
The sound performance started for us with the crowd. Excitement and expectation filled the air. The rumble of small talk in theatre seats, laughter, friends welcoming friends with hugs and hellos. Then the lights dimmed and the crowd fell to silence.
A blue orb appeared on the screen and began to unravel, and slowly our ship took off into a galaxy of reimagined sound and unique visuals.
Oneohtrix Point Never references the sounds of nostalgia from his life, an idea we can relate to as sound artists. His performance consisted of familiar sounds turned unfamiliar through his unique sonic filter. He tuned into a rhythmic underbelly of a beat driven pulse with meditative flashes. He also shared singular moments that flowed in and out of the composition quite naturally. The performance was entertaining for us, culminating in a cut-up electronic choir of angelic voices and a heavenly sounding landscape.
Video artist Nate Boyce made the journey complete with visual abstraction and “structuralist-minded” imagery.
Tim Hecker entertained us in the darkness, a light fog filling the space. This is a mark of his approach to live performance giving the listener a chance to focus purely on the sounds of the performance instead of the performer creating them. His technique takes the softest sounds, like a single piano string, and enlarges them by 100% making them massive and omnipotent. The performance unraveled slowly like a flower blooming, though you couldn’t see it opening…it had blossomed by the end.
The night ended with a discussion about the potential of sound. Beyond the limitations of commonplace instruments like drums, bass and guitar, lives an unexplored world of sound potential. Artists like Hecker and Oneohtrix Point Never take music and performance out of their comfort zones and into a new realm of audio possibilities.