Fog

 

Through headphones, the listener hears the sketches of a composition, and on a video screen before them (embedded in a desk), sees those ideas being notated on paper.  As the video begins to play backwards (the notes gradually disappearing from the page), the music slowly loses its coherence…

 

 

 

Little solace comes

to those who grieve

when thoughts keep drifting

as walls keep shifting

and this great blue world of ours

seems a house of leaves

moments before the wind.

 

from House of Leaves

by Mark Z. Danielewski

The initial inspiration for this installation was my research into the aphasia of Maurice Ravel and his inability in his final years to transcribe or perform his compositional ideas.

 

Aphasia is a disorder that affects an individual’s expression and understanding of language, often as a result of brain damage.  In the case of Ravel, it was his musical language which displayed the most extreme aphasic symptoms: “my mind is full of ideas, but when I want to write them down, they vanish” (Maurice Ravel quoted in Amaducci, 2002). 

 

Fog explores a communication breakdown between the aural (or rather, the cerebral) and the visual.  The installation attempts to place the listener, as closely as possible, in the role of composer – using Ravel’s Aphasia as a starting point.  It is also intended to serve as a comment on larger issues such as the role of the artist, creative censorship, and writer’s block.