May 25, 2005

The End of the Moon

Laurie Anderson was in town last night performing her The End of the Moon solo show at the Lowry Arts Centre – the worse modern building in Britain. Probably the quotation from the San Francisco Chronicle that it was wry and witty was true but that was about it. They also called it hypnotic which it was in the sense that the flat plodding unvaried pace, dull lighting and bland musical interludes were sleep inducing. The piece is Anderson’s response to her residency at NASA and in that unique context is therefore even more disappointing. Formally it is merely a series of short anecdotes told in her slow wry American accent – not much more artifice than an after-dinner speech – interspersed with short musically bland violin playing. Given the technological context of the work, it was remarkable how simplistic her use of electronic media was - basically slight augmentation of the custom-violin and some sort of laptop keyboard providing slow rhythm filler. You could feel the sense of expectation when she picked up a small camera which began projecting its real-time image but this was dissipated by remaining at the size of a flipchart. There the experiment ended and she put it down again. To be fair, Anderson claims in the programme to be a storyteller and that is about all she is. The line of NASA narrative was interspersed with a couple of references to 9-11 as the Americans call it, which amounted to a metaphorical tale of a country walk, coming to the conclusion that the reason that the world hates Americans is because they are “jerks” and that New Yorkers will forever after have to live with a fearful eye to the sky. A sorry level of analysis and response.

“What’s newest about this piece is the words” she writes. Meaning only the narrative as it is written, there is no linguistic experiment or innovation.

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