something to listen to

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i just wanted to quickly back up on last week’s performance Give Me Something To Listen To.

it was an amazing experience.
sometimes i bit terrifying, right?

i didn’t actually know what would happen. i could have sat in an empty chair for three hours, trying to convince myself that ‘better luck next time’ is adequate consolation.

thankfully that wasn’t the case – there was a pretty steady stream of people who liked the idea and had things to bring me. some people knew me and brought things that were incredibly meaningful (or just mean – ahem). others heard about the work, liked the idea and brought things they thought i might like, or that they wanted me to like. others brought their favourite song or even their own work.

performance

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my ‘performance’ in this instance is quite subtle. another artist described it as ‘not performing performing’. but with an ever-changing audience, those that stayed and watched me listening noticed a few interesting things about the action of listening in this way.

as each person sat down and i handed over my headphone jack to them (the first person i plugged it into their ipod myself and it just felt a little bit violatory), it was almost ceremonial. as was the end, when they handed back my headphone jack.

each track was quite different and i tried to be as true as i could to whatever i was listening to.

i really listened and the world changed a little bit each time. sometimes my world became a movie, or a film clip. sometimes i was completely taken over by joy and movement – like when heidi gave me ‘i want you back’, by the jackson 5 – my favourite song of all time. or when gonzalo put jay-z and mc punjabi’s remix of blame the boys. we just rolled together.

accompaniment.

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each person sitting next to me had a different level of comfort. some were completely comfortable – especially those who almost listened along with me – they could see where i was up to in the track. others were quite uncomfortable, or bored. most started fidgeting at about the 1’30 mark. 3’30 is quite a long time when you’re just sitting there.

looking through the early documentation, it’s interesting to look at the shape of the space between me and the other ‘performer’.

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sometimes it really felt like i had a partner in crime. other times that other person became a character in a music narrative, depending on the song/track.

significance

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i asked everyone afterwards about the significance of the track they chose and we had some great discussions. after the hypnosis for pubic hair loss, we discussed the idea of gender as a psychological construct (and thus able to be changed through hypnosis).

sarah gave me a song that she knew was one of the first songs she ever gave me. sarah and her brother’s collection was incredibly influential on my love of music.

lynda’s choice of alvin lucier’s i am sitting in a room was an obvious one for her. we were able to discuss the significance of distortion, and of the next level of listening to that work in a room, different to the one i was in.

it was also amazing to see how relevant the tracks became. even by people who had never met me before and knew nothing about my practice. For instance, someone gave me Dreams by Fleetwood Mac and i had never heard the line ‘play the way you feel it, but listen to the sound..’ before. Wow.

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it was the first time i performed that work as a whole and i have to say that i’m pretty happy with how it worked.

thanks to those who came. and for those in other cities, or if you missed out in melbourne, i have a feeling this is just the beginning.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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