It happened from 3pm to sunset on the 3rd February at Sunday Night Club
“Time exists for us because we experience tensions and their resolutions.” Philosopher Susanne Langer, claims that the particular building-up of tensions, and “their ways of breaking or diminishing or merging into longer and greater tensions, make for a vast variety of temporal forms.” In most Western music, we generally listen within a linear framework, recalling what has already been heard and anticipating what will come next. Often without ever having heard a piece of music before it is possible to anticipate the next phrase because of how it was suggested earlier in the piece. Johnathan Kramer introduced the concept of vertical time in music after experiencing a performance of Erik Satie’s Vexations. Kramer encountered a feeling of having exhausted the information content of the work and experienced “getting bored, becoming imprisoned by a hopelessly repetitious piece.” The experience of time became slower and slower, threatening to stop. But through this boredom, Kramer discovered a different mode of listening. By being liberated from considering the music’s past and future, the present expanded; suddenly it was possible to enter the “vertical time of the piece.”
A vector can be drawn between this alternate mode of listening to music and numerous meditation and mindfulness practices that similarly emphasise the importance of focusing on the present. As Transience host Lou Drago sees it, meditation can be used to obviate thought in order to alleviate oneself temporarily from the weight of self-consciousness and other anxieties.
For the work Suspending Time: Meditations for accessing alternate space/time in music , Lou Drago speculates on various types of music which potentiate the experiencing of non-linear time. The audience is invited to interact with the music with the objective of attempting to experience a suspension of time. This work hypothesises that these two factors, meditation and non-linear listening, are interdependent. The experience of vertical time can have a meditative effect, yet effectively one must be meditating – be alleviated from conscious thought – to be able to experience time vertically.
LOU DRAGO BIOGRAPHY
After finishing graduating from Massey University in New Zealand, i† arrived to Berlin in 2014. Since being there i have become involved with both contemporary art and experimental music scenes. The intersections of these with the queer community — and the associated political implications — have become an important space of activity for me.
I am a founding member of XenoEntities Network (XEN), a curatorial collective who focuses their research on queer, gender and feminist studies and their interactions with digital and technological cultures. We hosts one-night events, ranging from film screenings to discussions and performances. Programs revolve around contemporary art and philosophical-theoretical themes such as posthumanism, xenofeminism, cyborgs and prosthetics, surveillance technologies, virtual reality, etc. We also host regular meetings, Assemblages, that offer an opportunity to simulate research into these topics with our community. Through the discussion of these topics, XEN speculates about new forms of existence and explores the expansion of bodies and subjectivities within both the digital and physical realms. Collaborations between XEN and other spaces and institutions include, Institute of Art & Art Theory at University of Cologne, Mimosa House, London, Unsound, Krakow, Rabbit Hole, Rama em Flor, Faculty of Fine Arts, and Zé dos Bois Gallery, Lisbon, and Gropius Bau, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, SomoS, Spektrum, Agora, in Berlin.
My personal ongoing project draws directly from what i have been researching both experientially and theoretically. Transience is a monthly show on Cashmere Radio in which i invite artists to create anxiety relief from hetero-patriarchial systems of oppression through music. This concept was inspired in part by Mark Fisher’s writings and from a shared position of feeling as someone failing to fit within a patriarchal neoliberalist mould and the resulting loss of hope in the future. Like much of the Left, i feel that capitalism is not working but cannot yet envisage an alternative. I believe that the stability i was instructed to obtain, whether it be financial, political or ecological, feels unrealistic. The resulting anxiety can be interpreted as an instrument of neoliberalism that can prevent many of us from being able to communicate with others to raise consciousness of the structural injustices that alienate us. In a society where security feels no longer feasible i believe the only constant we can rely on is change. In Meeting the Universe Halfway, Karen Barad teaches us that the world is a dynamic process of intra-activity and materialisation, an ongoing ebb and flow of agency. The Buddhist Law of Impermanence maintains that nothing in this world is eternal. Both of these points of reference have lead me to understand that every aspect of life, physical and mental, is in flux and perhaps this transience is the only thing we can depend on. The artists i invite are asked to reflect on these ideas through the creation of an hour of music that provides listeners with an opportunity to suspend their current realities.
† Please note that the lowercase ‘i’ is used intentionally throughout my writing in English as an rejection of privileging the self above others i.e. he / she / they / you etc which are all uncapitalised.