A DAY, UNSUNG
27 - 31 August
Curated by Andrew Tetzlaff
Opening Night |Thursday 29 August 6-8pm
Silence is a twin of song.
Silence is born with songs unsung.
Today, song will flow out, silence will flow in.
Before a twin disappear.
Yamasaki uses performance as a means of engaging the unspoken and sometimes unconscious passing thoughts of our daily lives. a day, unsung will invite small audiences into the inner and secret world of a character and his nightly “song”.
IMAGES | courtesy of the artist.
a day, unsung
a day, unsung is part of the The Quiet Addition, three exhibitions hosted over three sites— BLINDSIDE, Spare Room and RMIT School of Art Gallery—set to explore the notion of silence within sonic-related arts practice. The Quiet Addition is a component of the Liquid Architecture Festival 2013: the Sonic City and BLINDSIDE’s Sound Series.
a day, unsung is supported by RMIT iAIR.
THE QUIET ADDITION
Ami Yamasaki's a day, unsung is part of the The Quiet Addition to The Sonic City and BLINDSIDE Sound Series – an event series created to explore sound and sonic-related arts projects. The other two components of The Quiet Addition include --
Silent Matter by Eva Maria Raab [FRA/AUT], curated by Andrew Tetzlaff
DATES 22-08-2013 to 06-09-2013
OPENING Wed 21 August 5pm–7pm OPEN Mon–Fri 10am–5pm
LOCATION RMIT School of Art Gallery: RMIT Building 2, lv 2, rm 8, Bowen Street, Melbourne, Victoria
Borrowed Time by Jeremy Bakker [AUS], curated by Andrew Tetzlaff
DATES 23-08-2013 to 19-09-2013
OPENING Thu 22 August 5pm–7pm
FLOORTALK Thu 8 September 2.15pm–2.45pm
OPEN Mon–Fri 10am–5pm
LOCATION Spare Room: RMIT Building 94, lv 2, rm 2, 23-27 Cardigan Street, Carlton, Victoria
This project has been supported by RMIT iAIR and Liquid Architecture Festival 2013: the Sonic City. It includes a quote of the scene from "Burning Shadow of a Man" (2012), directed by Yasunori Ikunishi and performed by Ami Yamasaki.
ANDREW TETZLAFF IN DIALOGUE WITH AMI YAMASAKI
AT- You are both a musician and an artist and you work across a variety of mediums—through concert performance, performance art, installation, and digital video. How does keeping a finger in a number of different pies influence your arts practice and your thoughts on both the visual and the sonic? Do these worlds exist separately for you, or are they just different sides of the same intermedia coin?
AY- My creative projects often start when I encounter something that moves me. When I do, it is like this inspiration simultaneously shows me how it wants to be realized and what I should do to create it. For instance, maybe there is a certain awareness I experience that “wants” to be expressed as a movie, or maybe one of the discoveries I make is best described through a vocalization.
I’ve never really thought about there being the border between different media before. Being versatile feels natural to me (after all, the world is a dynamic place). I think of rhythm as a common point that connects the various parts of my practice. It is a kind of order inside of chaos. It is made by everything and it occurs both inside of me and outside of me.
It’s like my grandmother use to say: if you continue to eat the same thing every day, you’ll probably get cancer.
AT- In this project, a day, unsung, you refer to silence as a “twin” to song. It is a word you use to describe an unuttered sound, a time when a person feels something but doesn’t speak it, a moment without voice. Potentially this could refer to an individual, but it could also refer to a thing (such as inanimate objects, abject marks and traces of past activity) or even to society or to history. What are your thoughts on this “twin” and what is your opinion of the state of this sibling relationship?
AY- When I started considering silence, I found myself focusing on the word itself. I imagined that the words “silence” and “siren” were etymological opposites, that they were antonyms with the same origin—two sides of the same coin. This was a misunderstanding that was caused by their pronunciation in Japanese phonetics, and though this isn’t the case, this thought is what led me to the idea of sound and silence as twins.
I guess it’s in my nature to think in polarities—to imagine that when something is born that its opposite would be born at the same time in order to maintain balance. I started thinking about this balance, about all the silence that must be out there, and about how over the course of our lives there is an abundant world—a huge ocean—of things we don’t say.
The performance/installation I will create at BLINDSIDE will have two sides to it. During the day, there will be some objects on display and a video documentation of a previous performance. It’ll be a bit like sneaking into someone’s room when they are away, guessing what stuff is and watching the tape of last night’s surveillance camera footage. In the evening, you’ll be able to see the objects with or through the live performance. You can see what he “sings” in the night.
Over the course of the day our character will encounter many things, things that will make him think of something, remember something or feel something. I call these his songs unsung—a day, unsung. Usually these things disappear and are forgotten but here and for a few days they will be sung. Singing songs unsung is to know what and how he felt about his experiences. The objects which the audience will see during the day are traces of these nightly songs unsung.
There are many people like our character, whose thoughts and feelings are like a deep ocean, but who maintain a quiet and reserved demeanor and work at their own pace. I feel that they lead their lives by unconsciously accumulating the afterimages of their songs unsung in the back of their minds.
Regarding your comment on how silence could “refer to a thing (such as inanimate objects, abject marks and traces of past activity) or even to society or to history”, I hadn’t thought in this way. Certainly the things you suggest are in silence. For example, silence could be a metaphor of truth or fact. In history, there may be a single “silent” truth that doesn’t speak, but is instead sung by people as stories and interpretations.
AT- Early twentieth century composer Ferruccio Busoni’s once wrote, “[t]hat which, within our present-day music, most nearly approaches the essential nature of the art, is the Rest and the Hold (Pause). Consummate players, improvisers, know how to employ these instruments of expression in loftier and ampler measure. The tense silence between two movements—in itself music, in this environment—leaves wider scope for divination than the more determinate, but therefore less elastic, sound.”(1) I thought this quote might be interesting to look at alongside your project, which similarly champions the “Rest”, the “Pause” and the “silence between movements”.
AY- Busoni’s essay is about the matter of writing a musical score. The core of his thought is that “[n]otation, the writing out of compositions, is primarily an ingenious expedient for catching an inspiration, with the purpose of exploiting it later. But notation is to improvisation as the portrait to the living model. It is for the interpreter to resolve the rigidity of the signs into the primitive emotion.” He goes on to say that, “[w]hat the composer’s inspiration necessarily loses through notation, his interpreter should restore by his own.” (2)
The process of writing out musical compositions often loses a part of the original music—that which is born inside the composer. Rarely can a rest, pause or silent tension (for instance between two movements) express the essential nature of this original music.
If I sang a day, unsung, I wonder what would happen. Would it metamorphose into a different song? Would the twins separate? Perhaps I will try this, if for no other reason than for the sake of balance and curiosity.
AT- You’ve termed this project as a “performance installation”, and I’m wondering about how you see this binary fitting together. What role does the installation play: is it a backdrop for your work or is it a work in its own right? On this topic, performances of works are often grouped together and delivered to large audiences as a way of enabling a comparison or conveniently maximising their output. In this instance, however, you were interested in running a series of short, intimate, near-private performances to only a few people at a time. Can you talk about this choice and about how this kind of experience effects and informs your project?
AY- Usually I combine these words with a slash: “performance/installation”. The installation gives a static depth and sensitivity to the performance, but the performance gives a dynamic power to the installation. This exchange causes time and space to move in a lively way; the space starts to breathe by itself due to this exchange between the installation and performance.
When I lead the small audiences through the installation, I want them to concentrate on the objects and not to say “there’s no connection between us” or “it is too difficult for me”. I want them to stand face-to-face with an object as if they were peeping at someone’s secret. I want them to really experience his day unsung, as if they were standing there with his eyes—like some kind of twin.
To experience this work, you transfuse your blood like when you read a poem.
1. Busoni, F (1911), Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music (T. Baker, Trans.). New York: G. Schirmer. (Original work published 1907).
Ami Yamasaki is a vocalist and cross-media artist from Tokyo. She creates installations, performance pieces and directs films. With primal vocals and movement, Yamasaki explores the relationship between us and our universe. As a vocalist, Yamasaki has collaborated with psychedelic rock icon Keiji Haino and provided original music for choreographer Makoto Matsushima. Yamasaki physically, vocally and sonically interacts with her works, her audience and the acoustic and dynamics of the environment. She sings, stops, listens, sings and—in her own words—“little by little, the space begins to make its own music.”