This second evening curated by Sound Thresholds invites Pedro Lasch to lead a collective listening session.
The compositions of John Cage’s are talked about so often that they have become canonical. Paradoxically, they are rarely physically experienced, especially in collective settings. For this special Listening Session on the social production of sound, Pedro Lasch invites us to remedy the situation by listening together to a recording of Cage’s Empty Words (1977).
Originally performed for a large Italian audience and lasting two and a half hours, Cage’s musical reading of manipulated words and syllables begins with the conventionally solemn silence of classical music halls. The work’s simplicity and iconoclasm, however, eventually causes a riot to break out. This crescendo of support and resistance to the artist, as well as the audible manifestation of the social tensions produced by the formalism of the work, are beautifully registered in the recording that Lasch is sharing.
Some of the social and perceptual modalities we will use to listen to Cage’s work belong to Lasch’s Veiled Conversations, an ongoing project that creates unusual conditions for both formal and casual conversations as it limits the visibility of those who speak and those who listen.
The event will be structured in three parts and most determined by the events’ participants. Empty Words by John Cage will be played throughout the evening, functioning as a 'durational' material to listen and react to. While we will listen silently to Cage for some time at the beginning, the second part of the event will consist in the overlapping presentation of audio recordings, texts or 'sound gestures' brought by specifically invited individuals, materials that may make visible our listening or non-listening, or in any non-harmful way, alter the social conditions of our listening. In the third part of the session, everyone in the audience will be invited to bring their own sound-generating devices (eg. CD player or props) and voices, to add another uncontrolled aural level to the recorded composition. The event will be ended with a group discussion as the sounds keep playing.
Pedro Lasch is an artist, educator, and cultural producer whose preoccupation with the theory and practice of a socially engaged art has led to the formulation of an aesthetics based on public interventions, social interactions, games, and temporal rearrangements. In addition to his individual work in a wide range of disciplines including drawing, painting, video, installation and performance, he leads on-going projects with immigrant communities and art collectives, such as the16 Beaver Group. Born and raised in Mexico City. He usually splits his time between New York City and Durham (NC), where he is Assistant Research Professor of Visual Art in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. He is currently on leave from Duke, and based in London.