20 July to 16 August 2012, Spare Room
Ophelia:Apophenia is a composition about the perception of meaning. Through sound design, visual transitions are materialized, made real — impossible mutations authenticated into effortless metamorphoses. Through musical score, the protagonists on screen become "known". We connect. Insights into characters, intentions, and circumstances are gently coaxed into feint relief through sound. Suggestions are made about the feelings we can share, and contemplation is encouraged — but ultimately, contemplation about what?
A simple vocal melody, combined with a direct visual gaze sees our minds lock into an instinctual Pavlovian response. Canine drool demonstrates a trained understanding of a bell's importance. Our own dribbling obsession with meaning speaks to an innate impulse to project (if we can't extract) as much perceived significance onto a given dataflow as possible. We take what we find where we can; we make up what we need where we must.
As a species we have a demonstrably feeble susceptibility to apophenia (a spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated phenomena). Sound has always been ready to exploit this addiction — facilitating the rushed, makeshift construction of something useful from the useless, sensing signal in the noise. Music shuts down critical thought, aligns emotional valence and synchronizes group emotions — all executed off radar whilst the audience is concentrating on something else. It has successfully subjugated the masses for centuries, and sold us rubbish at the cinema for decades. Theorists often complain about the lack of registration, acknowledgement or deferential accolades for the sonic practitioners engaged in such black-ops. But composers and sound designers actually revel in the subterfuge of this manipulation. We make things right. We get things done. We are Keitel's "The Wolf" from Pulp Fiction. We are Hitler's loudspeaker array1. We are the sax solo from Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night".
We know you're your own worst enemy. And we have a bridge to sell you.
Darrin Verhagen, 2012
1."Without the loudspeaker we would have never conquered Germany." Hitler in the manual of German radio, 1937.
This exhibition is element #5 in the ongoing multimedia, multiplatform work Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore..., an opera created by the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble for Chamber Made Opera and Bell Shakespeare Mind’s Eye.
Concurrent Project Space Exhibition:
Melbourne Art-Power Plant