Friday, March 2, 2012

People Pay To See Others Believe In Themselves

You ask: will FEZANT ever perform again? I reply: once someone offers us a fucking gig or two, we'll decide whether or not we're too good for that shit. I kid, I kid. We'll perform anywhere, anytime. Well, not anywhere. A decent sound system is a must. And generally, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are no good. I'd like to perform again and a lot. Stefan is more reluctant. He sends me videos like this:

Which makes me think of this:

On one hand, you have imperturbable British dudes carefully wielding electronic sounds. On the other hand, you have disco-loving Palestinians willfully ignoring the police state in which they live. That's where we come in. Obviously, Stefan is the imperturbable British dude and I'm the desperate dancing girl. Somewhere in between clinical precision and physical abandon lies the metronomic heart of a good synth pop song. Kim Gordon wrote an article in 1983 about the function of the performer in a rock concert. At least, that's what I think it's about. She says something slightly confusing about Laurie Anderson, i.e. body mediated by machine mediated by body amounting to a neo-heroically masterful techno-woman-voice thing:

"The notion of merging avant-garde and popular culture (multimedia technology) by an artist is found in its most successful form in Laurie Anderson's recent performances. The position that Anderson represents, as one who has transcended the isolation of the art world, involves a different kind of heroics from that of the rock 'n' roll persona, who represents, even if mythically, a sense of real sexuality, real life or death. Anderson's androgynous appearance and mechanical voice create an impression of organized perfection, expressing the ideal as nonsexual. She has created her own atmosphere of mastering and mimicking a technology that is usually mystifying. Wherever she performs, she accomplishes what clubs cannot; she manipulates the audience by the unseen, creating moments that change and move along effortlessly. As in the multimedia presentations of religious organizations and corporate business, Anderson's seduction suggests, 'Sit back and relax, don't think, let us do it for, let us show you how.' She is identifying with a higher order of technology-power. "

So rock 'n' rollers are real, sexual, and messy while machines are unreal, nonsexual, and perfect. Maybe. I've always found Laurie Anderson to be a bit too clean and a bit too smooth, despite all her unabashed weirdness. What I'd like to figure out is how to juxtapose the real with the unreal without losing any of the heroic human rock 'n' roll mess. Ian Curtis and synthesizers. Like that. Because when I'm up there on stage, and Stefan is dealing with the machines, and my voice is running through four different boxes, and the audience is staring at us, and the sound system is all we've got to push our sound through, and our fragile bodies are sweating and my feeble voice (which is actually quite loud, but not compared to three synths) is shaking, I begin to think, how can my humanity remain intact amidst all of this rigid noise? I like the rigidity of electronic music, but sometimes, it scares me. I can't compete. Except for when I get my head around it just right. Then the machines begin to make me feel more human. And isn't that what you want to experience? Someone being human on stage? Someone being human in ways that make you believe in yourself?

"People pay to see others believe in themselves. Maybe people don't know whether they can experience the erotic or whether it exists only in commercials; but on stage, in the midst of rock 'n' roll, many things happen and anything can happen, whether people come as voyeurs or come to submit to the moment. As a performer you sacrifice yourself, you go through the motions and emotions of sexuality for all the people who pay to see it, to believe that it exists. The better and more convincing the performance, the more an audience can identify with the exterior involved in such an expenditure of energy. Performers appear to be submitting to the audience, but in the process they gain control of the audience's emotions. They begin to dominate the situation through the awe inspired by their total submission to it. Someone who works hard at his or her job is not going to become a "hero," but may make just enough money to be able to afford to be liberated temporarily through entertainment. A performer, however, as the hero, will be paid for being sexually uncontrolled, but will still be at the mercy of the clubs and the way the media shapes identity. How long can someone continue to exert intensity before it becomes mannered and dishonest?"

Here's to exerting intensity on stage and beyond. And surviving. One time, after he had forgotten my name for the third of fourth time, Roscoe Mitchell said to me, "You know, the ones who were all about themselves and their thing, they lasted about ten years. The ones who were about the MUSIC, they're still going strong."

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