Shelter or Playground: The House of Dust at the Schindler House

  • Simon Leung, DUO, 2019. Photo credit: Esteban Schimpf

  • Simon Leung, DUO, 2019. Photo credit: Esteban Schimpf

Simon Leung

Bed, rotary telephone, sound

DUO by SL is a translation of DUO, by LS. In DUO by LS the recorder is played inside by two players with one recorder—simultaneously a solo and a duet. The screen is closed. Outside is a recording of a couple who alternate, irregularly, between yes/no, on/off, female/male, hot/cold. In DUO by SL the shakuhachi is played outside, continuously, alternating between two versions of the same. The screen is open. Inside is a telephone on a bed. Every week, there is a call. The telephone was once site-specific performance in architecture.

In 1935 John Cage and Henry Cowell organized a shakuhachi concert with Kitaro Tamada at the Schindler House. Tamada was later imprisoned at Manzanar during WWII. “Don’t Worry #2” is Kojiro Umezaki’s 2018 improvisation on shakuhachi. The recording engineer is Jody Elff. It is played, alternately, with an electronically filtered version of itself (mixed in January 2019). There is no “no” on the telephone. Once you’ve picked it up, you’ve said “yes.” If there is a piece of furniture that says “yes,” it is the bed. A double bed. “During a lecture the Oxford linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin made the claim that although a double negative in English implies a positive meaning, there is no language in which a double positive implies a negative. To which Sidney Morgenbesser responded in a dismissive tone, ‘Yeah, yeah’.”

Luke Stoneham (with Simon Leung)

Performance: Duo, 2018

One instrument (a tenor recorder), two players. A duet for the two, a solo for one. The recorder (interior): breath. In ... out... in... out. A meditation; a swing- door which divides nothing from nothing. A super-cooled music which is indeed little more than breathing. A no-need-to-be-anywhere/happy-to-be-everywhere oscillation. Peaceful co-existence. Blowing as kissing. (Live) sound as masking, as nothingness embodies, made concrete.

The recording (exterior): like a Nauman neon piece. On/off;yes/no. Brains, nervous systems, vocal cords as automation. An every-need-to-be-nowhere war-without-end. Screen-doors as membranes-which both separate and which potentially either amplify or mute. (Recorded) sound as distraction, as pulled focus, and a spill, as pollution.

Duo is a music of manifold ‘two-nesses’ or foldings: the yes/no, on/off, female/ male, hot/cold of the recording; the two (and only two) pitches which come from the recorder - just like the yess and nos of the recorded dialogue; the two performers who share that instrument; the two characters locked in the ricocheting recorded altercation; the sedate live interior world duetting with the frenetic recorded exterior one. It is reduction-to-binary, plus and minus, in-breath and out-breath.