ART WHILE U WAIT- A Second Closing
The artist always has his work to do, like an enlightened person in a depression. While people stand around idle (can't find work), artists are as active as ever. Thus, the fact that money for the new arts has dried up considerably in recent years does not mean inactivity. One must see more clearly than ever -- if only to sing one's way to oblivion. The bubble gets thinner and thinner.
Thus ran thought and mood while I was giving "Soundspace" its second performance at ART WHILE U WAIT last weekend, Oct. 25, 26 and 27. (The first was at Cat's Paw Palace last March) I lived at ART WHILE U WAIT, a small storefront, an air pocket for developing arts, on Berkeley's chaotic Ashby Avenue for three days. It was like urban camping.
Whenever someone came in, I would "play", i.e., turn up gains on mixers and start tape recorders, which contained -- would you believe -- urban sounds. Tapes and the presence of visitors stimulated and location-modulated feedback (standing waves determined by room geometry and configuration of object therein). Among the objects were several small microphones, hanging aluminum foil, speakers and electronic music system, as well as the occasional furniture and less occasional bodies. The piece attained, in a non-climactic way, the sound of large bells, in spite of the tape recorded banality. In Jim Horton's words, "It was a 'Great Moment' ... the 'Universe was Happening' there."
On Tuesday, Oct. 29 Jim played an electronic sound acrostic to Doug Hollis' camera obscura (stars compliments of Shiney Bumpers) which, far from being obscure, was an inspired transformation of a room. Doug masked off the entire front window complex and cut holes at various places to give multiple images of the outside world on the white walls. Inside became outside for all of us.
The next evening, John Bischoff, The store's ostensible rentee, presented overdubs of VW sounds recorded on identical daily trips made necessary by John's adherence to the work ethic. He also played a tape of a live-feedback piece he did at Mills College while a grad student and a tape collage of radio sounds, which was exciting and Cagey.
Finally, on Oct. 31 -- Halloween -- full moon! -- Sybl Chickenmint Glebow set everyone's heads free from avant garde pretensions by organizing a jam (flute, violin, trombone, electrified bass, percussion, etc.). The neighbors finally got around to calling the landlord. (the dB level seems to have increased steadily for 2 months. Phil Harmonic was among the first of the performers there -- and almost not there at all, performing with brazen humility.) The jam was moved to Ron Heglin's house where I happened on it, and it may still be transmogrifying Phil's original intentions at this writing.