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Destabilizing & Galvanizing Forces

opposing forces

Imagine: Upon waking, you discover your normal linguistic and communication faculties have disappeared. You possess crude noises and ambiguous physical gestures instead of intelligible speech, writing, and universally understood gestures. What would you do? Do you remain in bed and accept complete isolation? Or do you urgently spring out of bed, locate the nearest human and begin flailing wildly, producing odd utterances in an anxious effort to resuscitate (or recreate) communicative skills?

Although the former is tempting, I believe it is human nature to pursue the latter. In the proposed predicament, your identity — the unique constellation of physical, perceptual, and cognitive relationships with your environment — is destabilized. Despite this destabilization, you ceaselessly attempt to discover new relationships. You rapidly enter and exit potential forms of being in and perceiving the world. There will never be the guarantee that you will once again be able to communicate, but you persist in the face of seemingly perpetual failure. In this example, the fundamental need for interpersonal relationships galvanizes you to encounter alterity ceaselessly.

For me, the intersection between destabilizing forces (e.g., the loss of a fundamental skill) and galvanizing forces (e.g., the existential drive to address this lack; to proceed despite this lack; ward off complete isolation; communicate with loved ones; share your ideas) is where beauty lies.

This intersection guides my compositional work. I view my works not as concrete objects but rather as fluid collections of destabilizing forces that distance performers from learned performance habits. In practice, this often manifests through novel notational approaches (graphics, animations, videos, recordings, games, social systems, texts) and unorthodox approaches to performance techniques. I’m interested in denying performers the opportunity to understand the piece entirely. When they take the stage, they remain alienated from the work in many respects. In a sense, the experience of alienation becomes what is performed, not necessarily a preconceived selection of sounds.

I seek to accomplish three things through this compositional approach:

  1. To celebrate and showcase the human capacity to remain persistent in the face of the unknown; to remain positive despite inevitable failures.

  2. To invite performers, the audience, and myself to experience subconscious limitations and habits, inquire into their origins, revisit perceptual/creative/experiential dimensions left unexplored due to them, and inspire personal work towards more profound, fully aware, performance, creative, and social practices.

  3. To foster a community accepting of limitations and alternative forms of being. A community rooted in empathy treating “failures” not as “mistakes” but rather as expressions of the momentary boundaries of an individual.

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