The buffet was vanishing more quickly than it could be replaced. I stood near the back of the queue, near patrons who began making alternate plans, but I had none to consider.
Instead, I had the company of a casually dressed conservatory student who had played piano earlier to impress the music club with her skills, and to accept the modest scholarship which the club, along with their guests, had gathered together to give.
My cinema brain had longed for a floating camera view of her performance, but was compelled instead to accept the perspective from row x, such as it was—a spot chosen specifically for its inconspicuousness within the conventional sloping auditorium, whose seats opposed a raised, flatly-lit stage.
Her sound was gorgeous, but the moment was a challenge to contain, as I battled to remove thoughts of a much different stage—an imaginary stage of possible Bauhaus origin, where the concert instrument was suspended in mid-air, at a steep angle which permitted both a view of the pianist, and an overhead glimpse of the keys…
I asked her how visual dynamics were considered, among students of the classical music scene.
She said they weren’t, then pivoted to a performance interpretation which emphasized dexterity, tone, and related compliments.
The queue stopped moving when the final bits of food were gone.
* * *
The view from row x on the main floor of Brooklyn Steel was a much different sight, when Chelsea Wolfe took the stage for her acoustic set.
Her voice projected euphoric tones, reified in deep acoustic, as tuneful instruments filled the sound.
Yet I couldn’t resist thoughts of theatrical smoke, narrative lighting, the powerfully spare set, or her posture (!), which conspired to imply imaginary perspectives—and fear—all sounding from an added dimension which wasn’t in the room…
I noted the audience, surrounding on all sides (rows w and y—though there were no rows, of course). Eyes were fixed, straining to navigate unreadable sight lines.
Each pupil was dilated.
Were we…listening to music?
Yes—but through a mode of presentation able to infiltrate consciousness through each sensory input, activating imagination while simultaneously revealing a profound awareness of the moment, there, in that concert hall which was both light and dark, loud and quiet…
Did Chelsea do this?
Also: what’s the role of presentation, in any recorded art?
Is it representation?
Is it a part of the work?
Is it independent?
Can music be constrained to audio? Should it be?
Should musicians strive for constraint, or its opposite—a choreographed, immersive form, marking consciousness from all routes, both real and imagined, in a coordinated simultaneity revealing the singular moment of encounter…?
That instant we search for, to rescue from the background—that dull electronic interference which has overcome and scrambled time…
It’s a great question, really—whose answer I’m not completely sure of.
The most urgent role of experience is to inspire engagement within a slow-motion deep awareness, if possible.
Writing may or may not be able to accomplish this.
Apart from its visual, textual component, its ideas are non-sensory.
I did imagine a stereoscopic literature once, though I could identify no outcome—
except the knowledge that such a thing can not be perceived by a single mind…