Apophenia - our ability to create meaning out of randomness
Nowadays, we seem to have too much stress and anxiety. We are so used to being stimulated by all kinds of outside sources that we constantly feel the need for our mind to be occupied by something.
We are scared of being left out. We are constantly on our phones checking our Facebook/Instagram/Twitter feeds so that we can know what is going on. We want to be constantly updated so we have topics to talk about. We are so conditioned to social media that we just want to see something.
We are scared of silence. We feel awkward and anxious when there is a conversational gap. We feel the need to keep the conversations going. We try to do something to cover up the dead silence.
As a response to that, my friend Geir Foshaug and I collaborated on a project, which he named Apophenia, attempting to gently force the audience out of their comfort zone and provide them the opportunity to face their own selves.
Apophenia includes two parts: a live performance and an art exhibition. Inside the showroom, there are two circular sections outlined by strings in the center. The inner circle is for those who prefer static movement, while the outer circle is for those who would prefer movement during the performance. The strings are there to guide the audience. Towards the back, there is a beautiful set of metal bells handmade by Geir, which he likes to call "sound sculpture." In the right corner, there is the piano and the harp in the left corner. Thus the three instruments formed the shape of a triangle surrounding the two circles.
The live performance is in complete darkness and completely improvised.
No lights. No rehearsals.
(here is a view of the installation without the piano and the harp, but they are there )
It was quite an experience. Being in complete darkness, it was uncomfortable and insecure not only for the audience but also to us performers. I personally had never played the piano without lights. I had no idea whether I would able to press the right keys, or perhaps whether I would press any key. And, since there were no pre-performance rehearsals, I did not know at all what to expect. Filled with uncertainty and insecurity, them and us, the show began.
Let me tell you a little secret. This was my first time improvising. I have done some guided improvisation before, but other than that, I was a pretty straight forward classical pianist.
The first thirty seconds or so, I could not feel more anxious - not sure what to play, not sure where the keys were. Nevertheless, soon enough, that magical click happened. First of all, I was amazed by how I was able to spot the keys without seeing them. But the more important thing was the fact that I experienced this amazing transition from being insecure to secure and uncertain to carefree. You ask me why? Think about it. I could not see anybody. Nobody could see me, nobody knew who I was or where I was, nobody knew if I was panicking or not. There was just me and my piano. Where else could be a safer place? The moment I realized that fact, I became free. I completely immersed myself in the darkness and unknown, and simply let whatever my body felt flow out through my fingers, sounding through my piano. Now I could hear what the bells and the harp were doing. We started our little conversation and began to echo back and forth...
This 15-minute or so live performance was intended to calm down the busy and noisy mind in every one of us. Put down the cell phones for 15 minutes, don't think about anything else for 15 minutes. Just stop being busy and enjoy the present moment. Let the sound and space guide all of us to a land that only we could know.
After the performance, the showroom was turned into an exhibition and was open for the public to observe.
Geir is a strong believer in intimate art. Think about all those "distant-marking" signs in big museums; they are not that friendly, are they? Geir wants to create something that is "touchable" by the audience. Thus the audience becomes part of the art. They are in the art.
That is our Apophenia. Experience for yourself and see what kind of meaning you generate out of the randomness we provide.
(here are some excerpts from the premiere, not the complete performance)