Saturday, November 09, 2013

ModPo 2013 #60 Ephemeral and Communal: On Mac Low's "A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore"

Read a preface and a partial recording of the performance of "A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore" here.

I thought, at first, that the performance was very jarring. It really wasn't conventionally beautiful. However, after the video discussion, I think that "conventionally beautiful" wasn't the point. Given the background of Peter Moore,  a documenter of events and happenings, it was appropriate.

I liked the idea of a communal performance piece, something that invites individual contribution (constraints) but cannot be appreciated as a shared whole. Also, aside from this, there was the idea of shifting our attention from the traditional elegy (the conventional narrative) to individual words made out of Peter Moore's name. If we apply the deterministic context of Cage to Mac Low's text, we see that the constrain is Peter Moore's name, even the notes that are played correspond to letters in Moore's name. Each word does and doesn't represent who Peter Innisfree Moore is.

There is a question in the video discussion if certain words are actually descriptive of Moore like "pioneer" and "inspire." But there are a lot of words, too, like "eerie" and "poison" that might have nothing to do with Moore. So, the related and unrelated are mixed together in the performance together with notes sounding at seemingly random points (seemingly random because in Mac Low's instructions, the performer needs complete concentration to be able to deliver the word and note pieces). It is an ephemeral piece, something that honors the work that Moore did. For me, the performance called attention to a life: no narrative, many things coming together, words called out in a dream. I also realized that the performance was about Moore in context of the community he belonged to. It wasn't just about one man but the impact of one man on his friends, on the people he affected.

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