When the sounds of vibrating gongs finally became fainter on Saturday night, I found myself struggling to find the precise moment when silence prevailed. At the end, was I still hearing a sound, or the memory of sound?
Tatsuya Nakatani‘s performance in the black box theatre at SPACE on Henry Street probably prompted all sorts of unanswerable questions like that among the several dozen in attendance. Nakatani is billed as a percussionist and sound artist, but there’s something meditative, even sacral, about listening to both his extended and sometimes-cacophonous solo piece and his collaboration with a Gong Orchestra comprised of students who had workshopped with him for a few hours earlier in the day. (I don’t know the names of all the performers, but the orchestra included a number of friends of mine, including Louis Clausi, Andrew Hartzell, Andrew Olson, Jose Ray, Robyn Reeder, and Jeff Zagers.)
I’ll confess that I kept expecting the bowing and drumming of the gongs would eventually unleash a bigger sound, but at key moments Nakatani seemed to pull his musicians back, to encourage them to feel the silence amidst the notes.
It was a mesmerizing experience. Thanks to Jeff Zagers and Dollhouse Productions for organizing it. I took some photos, but the layout of the theatre and the quality of the experience limited me, fittingly, to a handful of shots from the fringes.