Laurie Anderson Entrances A Offered-Out Koerner Corridor With A Journey Down The Rabbit Gap

Performing artist Laurie Anderson (Photo: Tim Knox)
Laurie Anderson (Photograph: Tim Knox)

Laurie Anderson: let x=x. April 5, 2024; Koerner Corridor.

Laurie Anderson took the full-capacity Koerner Corridor viewers for a visit by way of the rabbit gap in her solo present: let x=x, on Friday night.

Anderson has been rebelling in opposition to typecasting all through her profession, insisting that it’s important for her, or any creatives, to remain free and obscure, to offer herself freedom to create. She isn’t a sculptor, or a painter. Or solely a musician. And this makes Friday’s expertise a tough one to pin down — or maybe, fairly easy to pin down: a night of storytelling.

As a replay and re-playing primarily based on her previous works, a lot of let x=x was constructed on Anderson’s fixed deep curiosity in expertise. There have been just a few main works with main visible components starting from her earlier days, together with ‘O Superman’, and newer works such because the weightless wandering by way of VR expertise within the Chalkroom, and To the Moon (each Anderson—Hsin-Chein Huang collaborations), and Landfall (Anderson—Kronos Quartet collaboration) the place Anderson and programmer Liubo Borrisov created a programmed set off, ‘Erst’, to generate textual content from stay devices. It took benefit of the large display, in addition to deceptively easy soundscapes the place she merely speaks, orates, and performs devices and sounds.

The night started with a delicate play on her violin, utilizing refined real-time layering of gossamer skinny sounds that wafted into the corridor, gathering the viewers right into a singular entity. Anderson’s music is all of: analogue enjoying, digital processing, music concrete, and tales — precise tales, as manipulation of sound and syllables of the phrases. Firmly accountable for her personal tech, Anderson’s first quantity was lovely and stay — it had a suppleness that merely doesn’t exist in a pre-made monitor from a studio.

Then got here an invite for the viewers to scream for a full 10-seconds: a slick solution to unify the viewers by way of easy, quick, and intense bodily energetic participation. Her ask — that everybody rise up from the chair, and make loudest scream with reason for their very own selecting — was accessible to everybody, and the playfulness of her gesture, considerably naughty; to make noise in a proper live performance area, the place you might be to remain in silence and revere the artist, was a sure-fire solution to get her viewers enraptured for the following 90 minutes.

performing artist Laurie Anderson (Image : Ebru Yildiz)
Laurie Anderson (Picture : Ebru Yildiz)

Publish-scream, she offered a delicate ‘captain speech’, the place she received the viewers prepared for the journey. Harking back to the old-fashioned airline pilot speech, the place issues weren’t rushed, and folks truly craved and loved the flight expertise, Anderson evoked a lot nostalgia and friendliness — bringing again that sense of wonderment as a baby, and willingness to look at somewhat more durable, ears and eyes open somewhat wider: the place would we go and what would we discover?

Then she led us by way of her works, together with the return of ‘O Superman’ with just a few new strains, and simplified partial visuals from the unique music video, bringing again the ‘Arm’ — initially set on textual content translations primarily based on American signal language. The playful nature of the projected arm and hand gestures, together with their loaded messages, spoke strongly, evoking feelings starting from consolation to query, worry, and uncertainty: (mother’s) arms, computerized arms, digital arms, petrochemical arms, navy arms, digital arms.

A collection of works with almost static visuals increasing into bigger areas was offered subsequent, together with bits from her VR exploration. The visible loops, like her aural loops, are sometimes very gradual shifting however they proceed to evolve, and earlier than you understand it, speed up to deliver you to a move of issues, which could be lovely or predictable —the distinction lies merely in your willingness to see what you want to see. Is that this a trick? Or is that this merely a chance to be a baby once more, the place issues can really feel, and do really feel new and real?

After just a few works, Anderson invited visible artist David Rokeby to debate her fascination with AI. Rokeby tried to run real-time AI visible processing the place Anderson would feed it textual content by way of speech: the AI churned out shifting photographs, melding from each other of issues which might be virtually actual. Anderson associated these considerably ghostly AI photographs to desires, the place issues should not fairly what they appear to be, and that such flows of photographs are akin to fleeting moments by way of a collective unconsciousness. It was a placing second to understand that these correlations and AI hallucinations, as international because it feels, is probably not so international in any respect to all of us, that such relentless flows of data and half-defined processed ideas could also be what we actually expertise earlier than they’re made acutely aware.

Relatively comically, the AI crashed unexpectedly throughout the demonstration, and rebooting didn’t assist a lot. After such a brief fascinating demo and its crash, this phase introduced again Anderson’s thought means again from the 80s, from ‘O Superman’: expertise can’t prevent.

Presenting snippets from politics, to eco collapse, love story, GOD and DOG and SAD, this system effortlessly wandered within the liminal area, ending with a bunch tai-chi cadence, the place the viewers was requested to face up, and gently comply with by way of tai-chi primarily based gestures. Just like the scream in the beginning, she unified the group by way of bodily interplay, bringing a transparent ending to the night, like waking up from a dream, stretching your limbs out, and coming again to the bodily actuality that you simply occupy, nevertheless far it might be from the dreamscape that you simply simply left. Slick? Sure. Efficient? Additionally Sure.

There have been many artists who tried to create an inventive expertise with tech; nevertheless, many have didn’t do what Anderson does greatest: to assemble an setting the place machine-generated directives might evoke surprisingly lovely and human experiences for the people. Anderson’s chameleon-like intelligence has helped her keep away from pigeonholing, and he or she has stood by her personal phrases:

“With a gun to my head, I say I inform tales,” Anderson stated. “And people appear to be work typically. They appear to be, you understand, songs. They appear to be movies. They’re simply tales.”

All of us shuffled out of the corridor, placing our hats and jackets again on, into a chilly spring night, from this rabbit-hole journey. With Anderson lingering on the sting of our thoughts, a bit just like the Cheshire cat’s smile: nonetheless there, although it’s gone. It was a phenomenal expertise.

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