Matt on Time With People

February 8, 2017

Tim Parkinson's Time With People is an insane work of art. It requires of its performers all of the following: musical skill, choreography, set-design, stage blocking, imagination, problem solving, and incredible concentration for over an hour. Most of the music performs is notated in words and pictures, so this piece is not unique in that regard. However, producing a fully staged opera without a director (or with 10 directors) and without a plot (or with 10 plots) is another thing all together. So many hours of rehearsals are spent on debating tiny details (which hand do you hold that in? are we looking down or straight ahead? are we more like machines or drones here? what is the difference?). But ultimately the questions are exactly the same as for any other musical performance. Namely: what is the “story”, what is that story's affect, and how do we portray that to the audience? In a very basic way, it's how I approach Mozart or Xenakis as well. How can every single thing I do be in service of the performance?

To be honest, that question quickly leads to a much more pessimistic question in these days: “what am I even doing?” To what end do I take part in challenging music in 2017? To use today's vernacular, “Why Do We Art™?” I know that I Art™ because it is important that the world is full of creation, invention, imagination. It's amazing that we've been in Pilsen each week dancing to unheard music, building unbuildable towers, shouting forgettable lists of flotsam and jetsam, reciting unintelligible poetry... If everyone spent a few hours a week Art-ing, then wouldn't the world be a much better place? I think so.

To bring it back to the topic at hand: thank Goddess for High Concept Labs! Through their sponsorship we've been able to study this piece, deconstruct, reconstruct, debate, and rehearse it through the fall and winter. And thank God for HCL's home base (and our home away from home) Mana Contemporary. If you're not familiar with either of those organizations, get with it. And come be a part of Time with People. Bring your imagination. Bring a friend. Bring a weird object that we can bang on. Or a really banal object, that works too. Bring me 10 toilet paper rolls and I promise to use all 10.

-Matt Oliphant

Aperiodic Chicago