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Finally, an Art Form That Gets the Internet: Opera - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic
"The same surveillance video clip plays three times in Two Boys, at the beginning, the middle, and the end. In it, we see Brian meet Jake in an alley. The older boy puts his arm around the younger; they walk outside of the frame. The video clip has a timestamp in the corner; it precisely frames the opera in history. Like Anne’s office, stuffed with papers and filing cabinets, that timestamp bears the brand of the archive.

Muhly has dwelled in an archive before. For his first job in New York, he tended the personal archives of Maira Kalman. His second album, Mothertongue, moved in and out of the stacks. As mentioned, one of its pieces, called “Archive,” asked a singer to remember phone numbers off the top of her head (knowing it to be a meaningful exercise, as cell phones now remember most trivia for us); another recounted a folk song—the recursive “Oh, the wind and the rain”—in the first movement, mangled it with electronic chimes in the second, then put it back together in the third.

The World Wide Web is a big archive, the biggest one we’ve ever created, humanity’s greatest “work of literature,” in the words of London artist James Bridle. What is chatting, even? All an instant message user does is read and supplement a document devised, archived, and accessed in the very, very recent past. Although the actual downloading happens offstage, little wonder that the plot cannot be resolved in Two Boys until the chat logs are downloaded from the server—or that the chat logs stick around long enough to be analyzed and parsed at all. Quinn Norton asks, “How do we make concrete, or at least reconstructable in the minds of our readers, the terrible, true passions that cross telephony lines?” The trouble of Two Boys is making the archive live onstage, making the operagoer see and hear the library.

In the second act, Brian struggles to describe the chatrooms to Strawson. “There is a world,” he tells her, “a real place—better than, because it’s real. You can’t see it, but it’s real.”

In its choruses, in its gliding towers, the opera gives the Internet dimension. Dancers, moving forward and backward on the stage, give it depth; their jagged stops and starts hint that the web has its own time. They are mimicking computers, which are, themselves, mimicking tools."
robinsonmeyer  nicomuhly  2013  opera  internet  art  depiction  aim  instantmessaging  music  chatrooms  quinnnorton  jamesbridle  surveillance  archives  mairakalman 
october 2013 by robertogreco

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