Music | Doing it in the Dark

Pitch Dark:
Giny Vos, Katharina Gross,
Arnold Marinissen

Stedelijk Museum
Amsterdam | Netherlands
21 + 22 December 2018

As I child I was frightened by the dark. Afraid to get up, I often wet the bed. Nowadays, I wake up in the middle of the night, pressing thoughts on my mind and, conscious that my wife is easily disturbed, write urgent, blind notes to myself before taking the opportunity to pee. In the light of morning, needless to say, what seemed so important is much diminished, which is just as well, because my scribblings are often indecipherable.

I’ve never eaten in one of those tomb-like restaurants that started to appear in the 1990s, where light of any kind, from cigarette-lighters or cellphone displays, for example, is totally banned and in which diners are forbidden to leave their seats by themselves. ‘By voluntarily abandoning your visual impulses you will be able to experience what wonderful work your other senses are capable of,’ Berlin’s Unsicht-Bar’s website advises the would-be diner, while London’s Dans le Noir restaurant explains, ‘Dining in pitch darkness, hosted and served by visually impaired people, will focus and sharpen your senses.’ But when you want to pee, how does that work? Are you led out by the hand?

Picture 2

Impressions and sensations caused by a total absence of light form the basis for the forthcoming performance Pitch Dark in which, ’An interplay of light, drama and music aims to transport the visitor to another state of consciousness.’ The intention is that the interaction between acoustic, optical and spatial stimuli, based on the neurophysiological effects that occur when you close your eyes: the images, after-images and motions perceived on the inside of your eye-lids, will play with your individual perception.

Picture 3

Tempted by the subject matter of this post, I tried to write it with my eyes closed, which was fun but didn’t work; a one finger typist, I’m just not expert enough at navigating a keyboard without looking at it. Seriously though, it got me wondering how musicians, Giny Vos, Katharina Gross and Arnold Marinissen are going to cope with playing their instruments in Pitch Dark, an interplay with cello, electronic music, percussion and field recordings, at the Stedelijk Museum, and how, if I attend the event, I’ll be able to find the loos.

Pitch dark images created by Pedro Silmon

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