Positive musical experiences often elicit feelings of transcendence— of being outside oneself, of non-verbal connection with others, or even feelings of a complete, unified sense of self beyond the pesky mind/body distinctions that characterize our boring everyday lives. In the places we listen to music, event production often aims to expand such transcendental experience by accentuating departures from normalcy; musical performance is augmented with light-shows, perhaps some evocative images or video, or maybe physical objects that range from furniture to weird reflective thingies hanging from the ceiling. (disco balls…??) But perhaps what’s more remarkable than actually experiencing transcendence through musical performance is our constant yearning to realize such a moment.
The installation design for the 2015 CMKY Festival opening party at madelife uses light, image, and physical material in a slightly different, more immanent, way: to hide the walls behind re-constructed photographic images of the scene that lies just behind each wall. And yet, in the absence of the original walls, a wall nevertheless remains, as one always does between us and the great outdoors. The wood studs placed between the viewer and the large-scale images help maintain this sense of enclosure, an invisible wall through which we must constantly peer. Ernest Bloch noted time and again how the only transcendent thing is our desire to transcend. As we look outside ourselves (to music) to help us transcend, perhaps we can also catch a glimpse of ourselves inside the frame we seek to move beyond.