Eco (2011)

Written by You Nakai, Kay Festa, and Earle Lepski


Premiered on 9 May 2011,

as part of "Out of Print: An Evening with Ugly Duckling Presse" at The Kitchen, New York

Performed by You Nakai and other people assembled therein

Additional narrative inputs from Y.G., Matvei Yankelevich and Bob Bellerue

Audienced by You Nakai

Gk. oikos "house, dwelling place, habitation"

(cognate with L. vicus "district," vicinus "near")

Esperanto. eco "property, quality"

Story #7 On April 9, 2011, exactly one month before the scheduled date of the event, we started thinking about the piece. We visited The Kitchen for the first time on that day, and noticed the stifling presence of the riser separating the stage and the audience, making any performance something to be looked at from a predetermined distance. This imposing spatial structure had to be subverted. On the same day, we started discussing ideas for the piece with our friend residing in Tokyo. During a month’s discussion via Skype, we conferred random thoughts about various aspects of the performance with her, who gave us feedback with her opinions. Other minor conversations about the production of the piece took place with the editor from Ugly Duckling Presse who organized the event, and the sound technician from The Kitchen. All these conversations were recorded without consent from our interlocutors. Then, six sound tracks of 18 minutes each were created using these recordings, arranging them so that each track would constitute a different narrative: beginning with ideas on how to begin the piece, elaborating thoughts about temporal and spatial structure, developing arguments about the title and other details, and ending with a conversation on how to end the piece. On the day of the event, six transducers were attached to the bottom of six audience seats on the riser, converting them, and whoever sat on them, into loudspeakers. Since their audibility was limited, the distribution of audiences was regulated by putting “reserved seats” signs on seats located outside the range of any loudspeaker. The entire process of going around the audience seats to attach the transducers before the show, was accomplished in exactly 18 minutes, and filmed. Click here to see a still shot from that film. On stage were seven empty chairs facing the audience. At the start of the performance, You Nakai entered and sat on one of them, looking at the riser silently throughout the performance. The six narrative tracks played out from the six audience-loudspeakers, while the film of the attachment of transducers was projected in exact real-life scale onto the audience seats. The piece began in total darkness, and if you were You, you would have seen the projected image of people moving around the riser like ghosts prowling through the audiences, for whom the beaming projection light must have simply been blinding, as is shown in this still shot taken from the documentation film that you can see by clicking here. You would have also heard the six narrative tracks together, an impossible listening for the audiences localized in their respective seats in the riser. Those who happened to hear from a speaker nearby, or directly beneath, a discussion on the possibility for some audiences to realize that the best seats in the house were actually on the stage, might have been tempted to move to the remaining six empty chairs on stage. Over the course of 18 minutes, house lights slowly faded up, becoming fully bright towards the end. The visibility of the projected film decreased in inverse proportion. How the piece ended, like all other aspects of the performance, depended on which narrative you were subjected to.

New York, 9 April - 9 May 2011