Crippled Symmetry and its Prosthetics
Collaboration between Fresh Ink Music and the Digital Arts Center February 6th 2013- 7:30pm
The Digital Arts Center joins the Fresh Ink music series for an interactive sound- space performance of Morton Feldman's Crippled Symmetry (1983). Feldman, who was strongly influenced by the art of Mark Rothko, called his vast and hypnotic compositions "evolving things." His best-known work, Crippled Symmetry, creates an ethereal sound-world with vibraphone, glockenspiel, celesta, piano, and flutes. Inspired by the reverberant acoustical space of Storrs Salon, with its extraordinary height and gabled skylights, the Digital Arts Center will project visualizations, responsive to the music and ambient sounds, onto the salon ceiling. The audience will experience these interwoven sights and sounds while reclining on lounge chairs arranged throughout the space.
Written in 1983, Crippled Symmetry is an exemplary demonstration of indeterminacy—a philosophy challenging the concept and process of art, rather than the art as the product itself. For Feldman, the indeterminacy of music lies in the process of performance. Three musicians perform the flute, bass flute, piano, celesta, glockenspiel, and vibraphone. The performance becomes unsynchronized, an intention allowing for chance and asymmetrical patterns – a Cagean idea. The structure of these patterns that change and morph ever so slightly throughout the composition is a paraphrasing of memory: what can be recalled, recognized, or undetermined? The listener is challenged to concentrate to his own memory. Feldman tells us, “Form is easy – just the division of things into parts. But scale is another matter. It requires a heightened kind of concentration.” The listener should enter into the sound world of Feldman gradually and come to occupy Crippled Symmetry in his own unique experience.
If we borrow the concept of a prepared piano from Feldman’s close friend and mentor John Cage, then we have prepared the Storrs Salon for this performance. The Salon of the School of Architecture will be the resonant and interactive music chamber for Fresh Ink’s performance of Crippled Symmetry. Upwards of 200 reclined lounge chairs will fill the salon floor. Audience members will gaze up at projected visualizations on the gable skylight above, orienting their body, ears, and eyes in a new way. The visualizations will respond to the musicians, instruments, and audience during the performance, while the salon’s extremely long reverberation will create a woven resonance of sound—the ideal setting for a Feldman performance. Much like Feldman found when standing before a painting by his friend Mark Rothko, we are meant to experience a slow, subconscious unfolding of the immersive environment around us.