Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Jerry Hunt, 1980

This is taken from a 1980 KPFA interview of Jerry Hunt with Charles Amirkhanian which can be found here.

About performance...
"I like the signing of sounds. And for performance particularly, I don’t think of myself so much as doing performance art as just a concert with the signing of the sounds in a variety of ways. It’s like maybe a color added to the surface of the sound in some way, so that people are not just sitting there watching me work gadgetry. In my mind it makes the rhythm structure of what interests me clearer, it makes the intent become more direct and more immediate, at least on some level. To my mind it does. I like that sense of directness and immediacy."

About titles...
"I like to have a certain formality in respect to both myself and the world and that’s just one clue to it - it’s not the only clue. There was a time when I thought, “Oh, I’ll just call it ‘Turkey Trot No. 1’, ‘Turkey Trot No. 2’”. It’s just not in my character nor in my mind to be able to do it that way. There are certain formalities. The titles are representations of layers of those formalities, because there’s a certain distance that I like. I’m not very interested in music, in a way, you know! ...or in art or technology or anything. Why still do it? Maybe that’s a little clue into what keeps my interest going. But each one I see as just continuing folds of concerns of mine. And if I don’t start with the abstraction, I’m hopelessly lost later. It just keeps it clear in my own brain, and I think it suggests a little bit. I don’t want a title to be too suggestive, but I like it to be sufficiently suggestive to give people indications of what orientation, what position they might expect from me, at some point. I realize that frequently what actually happens and the expectation of the title is very distant. Which is at once intentional and is not. I both intend and I don’t. Because I’m obsessed with the idea that there is nothing at the bottom of anything. And if there’s not, then why not? Why not?"

These have been my thoughts precisely. I'm sympathetic to the idea of the work being "bottomless and without foundation" (as he says elsewhere in the interview). I share this fascination with the way a work can be simultaneously empty and full. It's a construction which rests (in both formation and reception) on contingency, and yet it works.
Also, I have been searching for a way to articulate this reversal of what seems to be the usual relationship between sound and performance. In placing the sound as the primary component, the visual and performance ideas are layers which emphasize and make clear the rhythmical character of the piece, unfolding out from the sound.

And in the music itself, I admire Jerry Hunt's way of creating formless form, in which events or moments of unity seem to be like ripples on the pool of larger movement. And his use of voice, and acoustic noise-makers such as rattles, and his operatic/absurdist use of sources such as George Elliot and John Dee... much more to explore here.