Dorit Cypis, Close Your Eyes If You Want
April 1 - July 6, 2019
@ Santa Monica Prefecture
Close Your Eyes If You Want to See is a social sculpture exploring relationships between psychological, physical and social aspects of identity and social relations, emphasizing critical social engagement.
This work exists in relationship to the location of Santa Monica Prefecture as one of several single car garages situated in a public alley used daily by local residents and below two private residences.
Close Your Eyes If You Want to See consists of braille text drawn onto the back wall of the SMP garage space to fill it like a notebook page. The text describes a human aphorism calling for human alignment to mutually work towards freedom and social justice, two states that are somewhat ineffable, challenging to define and slippery to reach. Mirroring how challenging this call to action is, the visual braille text is an oxymoron of communication - the blind cannot see it, the sighted cannot decipher it.
While installing the Braille text to fit the back wall, intentionally lined in pencil to suggest a lesson plan, the artist noticed that not enough lines had been draw to accommodate the full Braille text - the last 2 words would not fit! After struggling with this "mistake" the artist recognized that these 2 last key words "struggle together" had escaped the lesson plan. She wrote them large over the expanse of an adjacent wall towards the garage door facing the open pedestrian alleyway, seeming to reach towards liberation.
The artist recognized visual braille as resembling the look of musical notation, and imagined sound taking the place of sight in resonating meaning. If we cannot see, can we perhaps hear what beckons us? Over the residency of this project musicians were invited to interpret the text as musical score. Each musical score was recorded for a compilation we now invite you to listen to.
Anna Homler & Judith Hamann
"I was looking at the words; and I was really struggling with it actually trying to make friends with the words. I chose to sing the vowels because vowels are how sound travels - not really through the consonants, which are stops to sound. So I underlined all the vowels and sang the vowels. The challenge was in listening to Judith (the bassist) and relate to what she was playing while also being true to the text. I tried to melt the English... I really wanted to melt the English as language... and the best way to do that was to sound the vowels."
June 8, 2019
Jimmy Harry / Bonsai Mammall
Jimmy chose to sit with his back to the main Braille text wall so that he faced the living garage alley landscape and sensed the text/score behind him. Imagining himself into the meaning of the text aphorism, he painted a cinematic sound landscape of epic proportions, wide, empty, and vast, as if awaiting a herd of wild horses - seeming to reach towards a physical liberation of the spirit.
June 1, 2019
Jeff Schwartz, Charles Sharp & Michael Intriere
For their first two takes each trio member interpreted a row of braille letters into improvised sound using the spacing between each letter to designate when to play. The cellist, Michael Intriere, then suggested they perform in a looser manner, focusing on the meaning of the text, and listening to each other for a more emotional response to what they were reading. Charles, the clarinetist, remarked that he'd probably end up repeating the format of the first 2 takes. Jeff, the bassist, replied, "that's okay, you do what you were doing before, and we'll switch it up." This third take is what we are including in the sound collection.
May 7, 2019
Andrew Choate & Brian Griffith
Andrew and Brian titled their piece: "Q: Can You Do Something For Me?/ A: You'll Have To Do It With Me". They focused on the shape of each handwritten English letter beneath each Braille letter to develop a method for translating the aphorism into sound. Andrew initiated an improvised gestural phonetic voiced sound for each letter, which Brian then translated to sound on the Bass... resulting in an elaborate dance of sight, voice, gesture, and musical instrument.
June 11, 2019
Formally, each Braille letter occupies 3 line spaces vertically and 2 spaces horizontally. In this sound piece, Luke assigned each line of Braille notation one of two pre-selected registers of the piano each containing 3 simple notes from bottom to top space, and from C-E-G musical notes on the low register, E-G-B notes on the high. A repetition of registers was improvised to include duration between words and letters. Playing live the improvisation was influenced by environmental sounds that enveloped the garage location: birds, cars, sirens, and passers-by.
April 25, 2019
Blair Smith: Keith Jarrett podcast plays at SMP
While visiting "Close Your Eyes..." at SMP, Blair listened to Dorit describe why the last two words of the proverb, "struggle together" appear on a secondary wall, seeming to escape the notebook-like primary wall of braille text. This "escape" reminded her of hearing an early recorded performance by musician Keith Jarrett, where he struggles to express himself on a broken piano he does not believe in. Blair found the podcast on her cell via Google, and the six of us sitting around the garage piano listened to the entire performance.
April 20, 2019
Kern considered the conceptual heart of the aphorism - how can one person save another without one co-opting the other? Can 2 separate individuals be maintained even as they come together? Kern considered that in playing music he has a tendency to avoid making a less than "perfect" sound rather than to accept it as what IS. While playing his drums, a shower faucet in the apartment above the garage was turned on filling the garage with an additional, perhaps unpleasant sound. Instead of waiting for the sound to stop, or attempting to drown it out, Kern accepted the faucet sound as providing a new noise basis to work with.
June 15, 2019
"In thinking about responding to Dorit's piece, of course I thought about relationships. The Navajo song 'Hózhó' occurred to me. It's about learning to walk in beauty on the planet in a balanced way. My sense is that these ancient wisdom technologies, born from thousands of years on this continent, are kindly and gently appropriating me. I'm deeply grateful for that and for the generosity of my teachers."
June 10, 2019
The physical set up of multiple mechanical and disparate yet digitally connected parts was a large aspect of Fredrik's project, and took some time. Once everything was set up his path was to literally musically channel the textual meaning of the aphorism. Fredrik meandered and somatically followed sound threads struggling along his way - sitting, standing, reaching for mechanical/digital sounds that jarred, ricochet, and grated towards a physical feeling of liberation. His sounds ended in disco like fervor.
May 11, 2019
Kern Haug & Luke Palascak
Just for fun, Luke's piano piece was layered over Kern's drum piece. Two works created within a common framework, performed separately, are presented together, co-mingling.