Fragility and indetermination. Moments of potential arise in the rifts of failure: Mario de Vega

Sunday 25 February 17:22

Mario de Vega at Sonic Acts Academy 2018
by Linnea Langfjord On top of a large, square, metal box normally used for transporting equipment sits an arrangement of electronic music devices. Tangled coils of wires, messy cords and a collection of objects which I cannot identify the function of, also sit on the box. I do not know how any of these parts work exactly, but the setup looks fragile. A fragility that, to me, stems from the dispersed and layered arrangement. Allowing things to fuck up. What I do know from Mario de Vega’s bio is that the values of fragility and indeterminacy are important concepts in his work. My immediate reaction to these words are “Great! Finally!”. Two concepts which are generally greatly misunderstood, interpreted as weak and negative, when in fact, they hold possibilities for us to step out of our habits of individualistic self-actualization, on the never ending quest for reaching our full potential that allow us instead to be vulnerable and interdependent beings. But how do you explore this through sound? Sound is vulnerable, but in relation to what? The moment a sound exists, it departs whatever created it and the values of whatever created it. As it travels through space, its existence relies on whatever it hits. Dispersing and fragmenting through space, a sound depends on surrounding bodies. Sounds are inherently vulnerable and fragile, but isn’t everything, relatively speaking? BANG! A confetti bomb explodes and the performance begins. de Vega is turning buttons, making noise. The storage box he plays from is on wheels and it moves across the floor as he leans on it, carefully pushing his weight into it, interacting with the setup. His performance area is not fixed and it keeps on moving as he performs. His interaction changes the experience of it from objects, into a collective entity, a being. The noises build up and disintegrate. This is another thing about sound; its existence is short-lived and easy to affect. The moment a sound exists, it is on its way to not be anymore. This can be said about everything, but the longevity of a sound is short, unless it is being extended by equipment and programs. This too, can be seen as fragile. I wonder how a performance which explores the values of fragility differ from one that does not, when all sound is fragile? At the moment, I am not experiencing the noise as fragile or any of the other concepts, as it fills up the space. Though can a sound ever create a concept or do we create it for it? When a sound is truly free from the values of what created it, can it create value itself? No. We impose values on it, breath values and concepts into it. de Vega breathes through what I assume to be a contact microphone, literally breathing life into the setup. It reacts with high frequency sounds which are painful to your ears, but feel pleasant as they travel through your body. I feel my right sleeve vibrate as an unforgiving bass enters the space and soon my entire skeleton is shaking, my lungs gasping with the sound. Whether the sounds are solely produced accidentally, activated without de Vega knowing how they will develop, I do not know. This lack of clarity links back to the focus on indeterminacy. He moves his arm quickly towards one of the buttons to turn it down as a sound is getting out of control. The expression on his face is one of concentration, with care and concern for what is being produced. Attentively listening to the machinery. If the sounds are truly indeterminate due to the fragile setup, it becomes possible to say that de Vega’s performance builds on production and accumulation through failure. Not failure in the sense of breaking, but failure as when a muscle is continuously broken down in order to be rebuild and grow. The relationship with a failing system, which you cannot completely control, becomes the foundation for existence, instead of a model based on predetermined values of optimization and maximum profit. A model in which progress is always “more, bigger, better”. Sounds are vulnerable and fragile and I become both in their presence as they affect my body. Through the body, which the sounds depend on, this fragility loops back and is fed into the existing noise, becoming a part of the whole again.

This site uses cookies.