This video installation is an alternative publication of a peculiar, original lyric essay. It depicts twenty-two people concentrating on vocalizing this essay as they hear it through a wireless headphone. Elements of each participant’s individuality are revealed through their contribution to this game of listening-while-speaking. Concerned with discovery, the piece uses textual experiment to queer action and interaction, as a means to sidestep stale notions of the self. It might suggest that when we speak, we should listen at the same time; to know and show our true selves by discovering one other.
At its heart the work aims to engage ingenuity, lead toward more generative and expansive forms of reading, and publish the imperative of active listening. The work troubles a conclusive telling of care, loss, motherhood, perception, and emotional proximity. It’s a literary photographic ritual that transforms cool, at times factual prose into embodied language. The essay’s tone, style, and genre shift and then snap together using the video/audio cut not as an injury to time but as connective tissue; the grammar of moving image communicates as much as the actual words. The work is restrained, but it also reveals irreverence toward orthodoxy, and humor about loneliness and awkward interaction. Moments of candidness and the embrace of error break illusion, invite examination of work’s construction, and allow speakers’ thoughts about the experience to be heard.
Items that illuminate the text are hidden in plain sight near and farther from the viewing area. The simple bench is handmade from alderwood which carries a protective symbolism. Even its pattern of slats (that at once support and free the viewer) and the oblique angle of the monitor denote flexible care. A basket of blankets, plants, fruit, and subtle drawings form the rest of the quiet, playful installation.