The blue and the gold could catch the light

29. 9. 2011 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2011

At the Volkskundemuseum I saw video of an amateur church theatre performance, I would guess from the fifties or sixties. I was mesmerized. In one section, a man wearing a handmade skeleton mask walked slowly across the stage, holding a metal arrow beside his head like a toy airplane. He then turned and walked slowly the other way, aiming the arrow at a girl in traditional dress. At first he was singing, then she took over the song. It was pure theatre: amateur, humane and precise. An allegory for death made more allegorical by my wondering where the people in the video were today, if they were all dead or a few were still hanging on. (There were children in the video who are most likely still alive.)

In the Hauntings exhibition there was a music video from Harappian Night Recordings followed by a video from Broadcast and The Focus Group. (Its strange watching music videos in an art gallery. The same thing I do at home on YouTube now done in a dark room but in public. In this instance with headphones on.) Trish Keenan, the singer from Broadcast, died of pneumonia this past January. It was the first time I had seen her on video since she had died and it took me to the core of the theme of hauntings more quickly, more sharply, than anything else. Trish Keenan is gone. Voices on old records are voices of the dead. Seeing her again I fell a little bit in love with her, the same way I had all those years ago when I first heard her sing.

In a presentation about Electronic voice phenomena (EVP) electronically generated noises that resemble speech, often thought to be voices from the beyond we hear a recording that rather clearly says: The blue and the gold could catch the light. The recording is described as one which took on a life of its own, that a lot of people heard and discussed, and Im reminded of record collectors, how they all get excited searching for the same rare record. Suddenly the recording and dissemination of EVPs reminds me of nothing more. The same obsessive attention to detail, information, sharing, community and exclusivity. Im open to anything. I find science tepid on these questions and it seems likely to me there is more. But the presentation mainly felt like lost people grasping at anything, recording the air and scouring the tapes, honing in on five or ten second excerpts, slicing away at any sound that might mirror our desires. Calling it doubt and questioning but more than anything wanting certainty. And of course, as is well documented, I also feel lost. So maybe I’m projecting. But I relate.