Drawdown Date (Neutral Political Space) is a performance and installation executed for the project Des Chapitres du Conflit in collaboration with the Office for Collaborative Sustainability at the former Iraqi Embassy to the German Democratic Republic in Berlin. By scrapping, sweeping, mopping and sanitizing a single room of the embassy I attempt to demonstrate futility of imposing neutral/abstract political orders upon the material traces of an unknown history.
Psyte #3 was performed in the town of Biedenkopf in the Hessen region of Germany on May 8, 2010. Klaus-Jürgen Höfer, the music teacher at the Lantahlschule Biedenkopf was instrumental in the realization of the performance, recruiting his orchestra and their family members to participate in the performance. This was the first performance of the Psyte score by a live band. Birgit Simmler, cultural director for the town of Biedenkopf, was able to secure a vacant storefront on the Marktplatz for the performance.
Psyte is a site-specific music project which uses a generative score to develop new logistical spaces. The score takes as its starting point a series of systems commonly used for identifying place: Longitude, latitude, dimensions of an architectural structure, time of sunrise and sunset, average temperature etc. Though their goal is to specifically locate a place based on its particular qualities and attributes these systems also have the effect of departicularizing and rendering abstract the places that they identify. These systems are inverted and combined with one another to generate a series of equations which determine the timing and character of the musical events which will occur when the piece is performed.
Saturation in music means a flattening of the dynamics and affect of a sound. The depth and perspective of the sound disappears, leaving a smooth one dimensionality. The use of drones in contemporary music is based on an essentialist reduction which traces the contours of what is immanent to music, duration being one of these borders. In contrast, saturation works by operations of indiscriminate inclusion and intensification, revealing less about the essential qualities of music but more about it’s circumstances.
Saturation in vision is something close to extreme brightness and the saturation of any sense faculty can be described as the intensification of that faculty to the point of uselessness. At the saturation point of sound we are no longer able to hear difference. At the saturation point of vision we become blinded by brightness, unable to distinguish objects from one another. Staring at the sun has been known to induce such disability.
Saturation is the point at which everything is shown and everything is heard. Everything is sensible, the faculties open to such a degree that difference vanishes and becomes a state of disorientation. An individual or subject at a point of total saturation may experience the liquidation of the following:
faculties of judgement
If we can describe the experience of sensual saturation for each of the senses than what of the sense that endows us with synthestesia, the sense that bridges the differences between the others. The haptic sense, the sense of touch but also of touch touching itself. That sense which grants spatial awareness and internal awareness of the interelatability of all of the senses. What is it to experience the saturation of this faculty? What is saturated space?
Psyte is a site-specific music project which uses a generative score to develop new logistical spaces. The score takes as its starting point a series of systems commonly used for identifying place: Longitude, latitude, dimensions of an architectural structure, time of sunrise and sunset, average temperature etc. Though their goal is to specifically locate a place based on its particular qualities and attributes these systems also have the effect of departicularizing and rendering abstract the places that they identify.
These systems are inverted and combined with one another to generate a series of equations which determine the timing and character of the musical events which will occur when the piece is performed. Psyte #2 was written for an unused storefront in the Skenderija Center Mall in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was performed on February 10, 2010 using four ipods loaded with prearranged musical parts, each corresponding to a different surface of the space.
On November 29 1969 the most expensive film in Yugoslav history premiered at the Skenderija Center in Sarajevo. The Battle of Neretva is about the Partisans, a communist militia who battled the axis powers in WWII under the leadership of a young Josip Broz Tito. The spectacular mobilization of resources throughout the course of filming - 10,000 actors from the Yugoslav People’s Army playing themselves, four whole towns built and destroyed, a railway bridge blown up, rebuilt, and then blown up again - is convincing evidence that director Veljko Bulajić, in a bizarre reading of the principles of method acting, believed that to make a good war movie, he needed to actually make war. A cast of international stars including Orsen Welles and Yul Bryner were lured to Yugoslavia by the film’s enormous budget.
Of course, a project of such proportions demanded an extravagant site for its premiere, and the recently completed, multi-use Skenderija complex was a fitting venue for the presentation of such a spectacle. The complex housed a theater, youth center, underground shopping mall and, after 1977, sports facilities for the 1984 Olympics. The architecture of Skenderija belongs to the typology of the multi-layered, fully enclosed shopping center. A privately controlled space functioning as an ersatz-commons. There is a long lineage of such types extending through historical modernity - Benjamin’s “world in miniature” of the Paris arcades – back to the classical world. Skenderija however is of a particular sub-type, mostly associated with the suburban temples of American consumerism, whose point of origin can in be traced back to Skenderija’s own neighborhood.
Victor Gruen, a Vienese architect who fled Austria to Los Angeles after the Anschluss, constructed the first of these types in Edina, Minnesota in 1956. The Southdale Shopping Center boasted several pioneering features – stores oriented towards interior passageways, multi-floor plans, climate control technology - which would later be replicated in countless malls in the States.
Gruen was the first architect of commercial space to seriously consider how the built environment might function as a mechanism for encouraging public shopping habits. The architect of Skenderija may not have been consciously aware of the history of these features as he was drawing up plans for the center, but he surely had some sense of their effectiveness in creating spaces conducive to retail consumption.
The Battle of Neretva and the Skenderija Center appeal to two different modes of public temporality, two textures of communal relations. Skenderija takes a futuro-speculative approach and is constructed as a space of future leisure time, a space which conceives of its users as a public based on a theory of shared consumer psychology. The Battle of Neretva constructs a public around the projection of a shared national history. The coincidental premiere of both the building and the film on the same night in 1969 provokes a question whose relevance forty years later is evidence of it’s difficulty: How much are we citizens and how much are we shoppers?