we talked for hours

is a collaboration with Christopher Willes presented by Lumière Festival in Sydney, Nova Scotia, September 2015, in the parking lot under Sydney’s Civic Center.

This event is a conversation space*. We’re interested in the practice & performativity of public discourse; how discourse might define a public. In speaking to each other we gather as a chorus of voices, perhaps creating – however temporary or fragile – a space for reflection & emergent knowledge. Communication, its processes of negotiation, is itself aesthetic; how we are speaking & listening to each other traces the quality of our relations. & so we’ll spend the evening in a conversation with friends & with strangers, people coming & going, trying to find what might need to be said & heard together. This space we are offering is formless & yet formal. There are ten chairs, ten microphones, & ten amplifiers**. Each voice is heard through  individual speakers sourced from Sydney’s music community***. Not immaterial. Not dematerialized. It seems to us that there is less & less trust in the invisible, the hard to measure****. So conversation is the material we are choreographing by airing it out here tonight. Let’s listen to one another, extended in a simple gesture of awkward amplification. In meeting in a little bit of strangeness, what opens? What is found in front of an audience of listeners? Subjects arrive; we agree, disagree & agree to disagree. Or we’re stuck with not knowing, & so every hour there’s an invitation to sing***** a little together. Some kind of catharsis? We still haven’t decided what we’ll do if nobody joins. Maybe a dance?? With the help of a drum machine – Automatic party.

In a parking lot under the Sydney Civic Centre: a space that is in essence meant to serve as a platform for discourse on the public good.

** Regarding the repurposing of the guitar amps for conversational use: We recognize the object of the guitar amp, & its history as a male dominated audio instrument, & so we wink at it through our softening (dethroning?) of it here. goo.gl/S9wMBi

*** The guitar amps were graciously offered by Alicia Penny, Albert Lionais, Brendan Gillis, & Yvette Rogers. Thank you all so much!

**** We’re not interested in the common division of so called “community engaged art” from other kinds of projects. We believe that activism & its echoes  within artistic projects are not so easily separated out as the predominant thinking (public funding structures) might suggest. A “social turn” (Bishop) in art making is rather on the part of the institution (vs. Bishop), catching up to the always already social nature of art across history. Art, politics, community, sociality etc. are always moving (with)in relation to each other; a feedback loop, dangerous & beautiful.

***** American experimental composer Pauline Oliveros’ participatory vocal scores, ‘Sonic Meditations’ for Deep Listening, are our inspiration here.