each day one voice — Rosanna Albertini
About KEATON MACON and his installation at Laurel Doody, Los Angeles
Nonintention (the acceptance of silence) leading to nature; renunciation of control; let sounds to be sounds. Fluent, pregnant, related, obscure (nature of sound)
JOHN CAGE — Composition in Retrospect, 1982
The day I was born, December 28, even the time of my birth, with the winter light getting dim at four in the afternoon, are visible in a painting my grandfather Oreste made outdoors in the field, while waiting for me. But I miss the voice of that day: the dry grass crackling under the soles? the rumbling stove in the kitchen? For all its importance, the event shrunk in one word, ‘birth,’ cleans that day from the physical echoes of people walking up and down the stairs, shutting doors, running water, and the concert of words around their mouths. Of course I was there, but I don’t remember them.
Keaton Macon reminded me of the fluent, pregnant, related, obscure nature of sounds with an art piece in which the sound, one continuous hour of sound from each day of the year in the artist’s life, is a ghost vessel kept at bay in tapes. Days lurk in a white box, as vertical as books, holding the name of the day on their back: NOV 30, DEC 06, JAN 14. The year isn’t written, the date is incomplete. One of the many loose ends of this piece that make it magic. The obsessive, archival cleanness of its presentation corresponds to the artificial, manufactured life of the calendar. The natural life of a living day flows out of it asking for acceptance.
Open the box, put the tape in the small recorder, and the fluid mass of John Cage’s silence erupts in the room, the calendar blows up. If a tape gets lost or is stolen, Keaton will wait for the same day of the following year to record an hour of sound. HORIZONTAL THINKING. The same days in different years seem to share more than a name: they have a place in a natural order that is not under human control. Loose end again.
What’s important, really, what does become a date? The artist wondered at the beginning of the project if places where historical dramas happened, like the Bob Kennedy’s assassination at the Ambassador Hotel, or a robbery with hostages in a bank, might be particularly significant. What prevailed is his attachment to the daily marvel, unique and impossible to repeat. The best way to be in touch with the piece is to sit on the floor. To slow down and wonder if any peak of ‘importance’ is ever necessary. Every part of the installation, shelves and drawings on the walls under a diffused light from the ceiling, start floating among the recorded sounds and the rain hitting the window. Humans, images and sounds, physical bodies sharing a space.
Except the drawings are rebellious, and give a visual form to the daily sounds as they unfold, what the artist sees through his fingertips moving the pencil on paper. Tim Hawkinson, about two decades ago, sculpted his favorite musics in large aluminum foil records, letting his fingers react to the sounds. In Macon’s drawings, one for each day, the tape becomes a ribbon, happy to unfold not having anything to fasten, mixing the recorded mood with the artist’s state of mind unfolding in his chest at that very moment. A loose end in his heart.