June 11th, 2016
The Graham Foundation
Reducing the Tempo to Zero is Ben Vida’s new long-form composition for four vocalists and electronics.
Please note, audience members may come and go throughout the near five-hour performance. Guest vocalists include Melina Ausikaitis, Nina Dante and Dan Mohr. Lighting design by Christine Shallenberg.
Informed by Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2, the extended performance length of RtTtZ acts to complicate the listeners’ relationship to memory, absorption and attention. The timeline of this piece takes hours to unfurl, which means some audience members may only experience segments of the overall composition; this eliminates basic structural signifiers (like a strict beginning, middle and end) and leaves room for reconsidering how the developmental arc of a composition can function.
As an example of expanded composition, RtTtZ also takes historic cues from works like Stockhausen’s Sternklang and Le Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House. In much the same way those pieces used staging and site specificity as elemental compositional building blocks, RtTtZ uses direct intervention with the gallery space to oscillate between installation and performance. Not only does this prompt a reinterpretation of agency for the audience (both by encouraging them to experience the piece from a number of different locations as well as having them determine their own length of engagement with the work), but, in terms of audience expectation, context and perspective, it also actively sets up a different kind of experiential proposal.