On Tuesday night, I attended a preview performance of “What Then is Time?” Upon entering the room, I was faced with a computer and mic. The computer asked, “what is time?” I thought carefully and responded with a considered philosophical response. Instead of recording my response for posterity, the computer took the audio and spit out incomprehensible garble over the sound system. I was a little offended, but decided to give this piece of High Art a chance.
After advancing past the mic, I noticed that the walls were covered with some sort of art. I investigated further. Much to my dismay, it was not art at all, but rather grainy photos of clocks. I discontinued that venture and took my seat. Finally, after 10 more minutes of the sound system spitting out garble, Clee McCracken took the stage.
The Maurice Ravel piece was first on the program. The other critics and I breathed a sigh of relief—finally some high art. Unfortunately, his performance was disappointing at best. He gesticulated wildly for one minute and 30 seconds, and then the song was over. No character development or lyrical singing.
Next up was a piece by Benjamin Britten. It was yet another missed opportunity. His pianist must have been gravely ill, because McCracken opted to sing Songs and Proverbs of William Blake with a poorly orchestrated karaoke track and fuzzy video that seemed to have come from a corrupted file.
To my pleasant surprise, the titular piece, What Then is Time?, by student Christian Carroll was quite sublime, and the lyrics had moments of philosophical brilliance. Unfortunately, McCracken accompanied this with a projected video of someone wrapping yarn around his head.
The final set of pieces was the strangest by far. It featured a classical-pop hybrid ensemble and lip-synced voice. In this post-modern publicity stunt, we were bombarded with nonsense text and music that was worthy of a rock concert, not a recital hall. I cannot with good conscience recommend this performance to a connoisseur of fine art, but if you are looking for a multimedia pop-concert masquerading recital, then be sure to head to Esch tonight at 8 p.m.