This Land #1

One Song Two Sides Bold Breathing – This Land #1, Joshua Tree CA

Revisiting ‘One Song Two Sides Bold Breathing’, one of sixteen visual scores from my Khal project, I created a new composition involving eight participants who together create a sound performance piece referencing an old American song “This Land Is Your Land” originally written and sung by Woody Guthrie in 1944. This auditory spatial experiment will continue to be performed as a series on different sites where land rights are questionable or where there has been a major transformation – either a removal of a piece of history replaced with new development such as a vacant lot that once contained a historic building or a site with a changed identity. I’m interested in how this performance piece engages with the public, provokes conversation around the issue of land loss, ownership, division, transformation and abuse, and what happens when this is transplanted in different states across the USA.

The words were sung from one person to another in a circular formation. The three verses were repeated with each cycle becoming less decipherable than the cycle before until the sound became a moving wave of vocal undulations and breath and the song became completely unrecognizable. The first three cycles are hummed and then chanted for another two cycles before becoming mainly breath.

We went through the verses, one person at a time in the indicated pattern, each person used their phone to record their own voice. The audio was bounced as one track for the purpose of providing a sound clip, but as a performance piece, the words move from one person to another transforming the song into a circular movement of sound.