Monday, November 17, 2008

Laurie Anderson's "Difficult Listening Hour"/"O Superman"

My heart skips a beat when someone says we're going to hear or see Laurie Anderson perform. I can't help it. Her off-the-scale mind trips take me places that nobody else seems able to effect in me. Listening to performances is something that you have to invent images for. But WATCHING Laurie Anderson perform and hearing a piece for the first time that she's prepared is so jarring to the imagination that you are instantly SUCKED INTO IT. The willing suspension of disbelief happens when you realize it is her, when the lights go down and come back up to find that you've been somewhere else for a while.

The performance linked above was "Difficult Listening Hour" from "The Kitchen Presents Two Moon July" television show and was from the UbuWeb Film and Video page. The page states:
UbuWeb is pleased to present dozens of avant-garde films & videos for your viewing pleasure. However, it is important to us that you realize that what you will see is in no way comparable to the experience of seeing these gems as they were intended to be seen: in a dark room, on a large screen, with a good sound system and, most importantly, with a roomful of warm, like-minded bodies.

However, we realize that the real thing isn't very easy to get to. Most of us don't live anywhere near theatres that show this kind of fare and very few of us can afford the hefty rental fees, not to mention the cumbersome equipment, to show these films. Thankfully, there is the internet which allows you to get a whiff of these films regardless of your geographical location.

We realize that the films we are presenting are of poor quality. It's not a bad thing; in fact, the best thing that can happen is that seeing a crummy shockwave file will make you want to make a trip to New York to the Anthology Film Archives or the Lux Cinema in London (or other places around the world showing similar fare). Next best case scenario will be that you will be enticed to purchase a high quality DVD from the noble folks trying to get these works out into the world. Believe me, they're not doing it for the money.
And then they suggest that you buy the films and videos of the artists represented, as well as that you go to see the performances in venues near you. I live in a small farming community in the middle of nowhere in south Texas. This is as good as it gets for a while for me. But you...? That's another story, isn't it? Do what you can.


  1. Well, yet another sign that you and I are on the same wavelength in many ways. Dug out the Big Science CD recently, put in in the car player, cranked all 6 speakers to eleven, and was just transported by O Superman. Would that I could see Ms. A's performance in which she, wearing ice skates and standing on a block of ice, played her violin until the ice was completely melted away. Whatta gal!!

  2. Yezzir, there are many experiences in this world that we should have, perhaps, availed ourselves while they were extant. Unfortunately, it is now and here we are. Only in the future can we behold that which is to come that will boggle.