Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Presentity by Kabir Carter

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Presentity by Kabir Carter was one of the most unique public art experiences that I’ve had in a very long time. This is primarily due to its honesty and subtleness. The project did not involve any spectacle, rather it was a highly private experience carried out in tourist center filled with activity.

A few weeks before the dates of the performance, Kabir emailed an invitation to be audience to Presentity. Eager to listen to Kabir’s work and spend time with the sound artist, I replied and he wrote back with a time and date and that I would receive a text with the exact location the day of the performance. It was all a bit mysterious.

On Saturday August 18th, I received the address – the back stairs of City Hall on Chambers. That afternoon I sat and waited for Kabir as firetrucks rushed by to the Deutsch Bank building where a fire exploded. There was one other guy who showed up and looked like an artist. Kabir showed up carrying three walki-talkis, he introduced us and we began to walk.

On Chambers we walked east, turned the corner at Centre Street and entered a very old subway elevator. We rode the elevator up and down twice, the first time with one other person, the second time, only the three of us and the performance began. Kabir manipulated the walki-talkis to create the electronic sound performance, we merely walked with him and listened as carefully as possible. We exited the elevator below ground, entered the subway station, walked through the tunnels, up the stairs and back onto Centre Street, walking adjacent to City Hall, listening carefully. Then crossed the street toward Pace University. Bent down to the ground to listen to the sounds resonating within the cavernous space below a steel grate.

Again we entered the subway, this time via a desolate subway entrance at the corner of Pace University, we walked through a long, empty subway tunnel. We exited the subway and the performance ended.

The walk and performance were a delicate intervention upon the City Hall area of New York City, I call it delicate because it was comprised of three individuals focused upon careful listening in a saturated space where focus is difficult to achieve.

I felt that the sound performance began a bit awkwardly, as if Kabir needed a bit of time to catch his rhythm. However the elevator was a highly successful tool for spatial transfer… I’m not sure how to put this. The elevator was very successful in creating the sensation that we were being taken to a different place, to a site within a site… to our own place, a private space shared between us three individuals but located within the City Hall Park area.

At first the most difficult element personally was negotiating between getting out of the way of pedestrian traffic and listening to the performance. But as we continued, the listening took presedence over the concern of allowing pedestrians by. Also as the performance continued the sound began to coalesce, there was meat to it, it sounded as a concert or performance and not merely noise trying to find its language.

Written by ricardo

September 10th, 2007 at 6:40 am

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