werkFalse is a scored performance piece that was created in close collaboration with flutist and close friend Leia Slosberg. 2 speakers are placed to the left and right of the performer, each speaker corresponding respectively to 2 in-ear microphones placed in either ear of the performer. In this way, the audience “hears” what the performer hears. Driven by a desire to pay attention to the performer’s ears as an “unused” but important space, part of the architecture of the flute.
werkFalse gets its title from a deconstruction of the german concept Werktreue, a principle of adherence to a score or general ideal in performance and interpretation. Texts used in werkFalse are original work, though some texts were borrowed from dead rooms written by members of ultra-red, as well as graffiti transcribed from abandoned architecture.
werkFalse approaches the flute metaphorically as historical architecture with unused or abandoned areas. In researching this piece, several abandoned spaces were visited (recollections of these visits were also used as part of ITCHY.)
The influence of these physical spaces appears through an attention on “undesirable”, “unstable”, “unused” sounds and performance practices. Of particular influence was a cold storage facility (pictured above). At this site, vaults intended for labor, sterility, preservation and freezing temperatures were dramatically reversed, becoming unoccupied space for debris, structural disintegration and hot trapped humid air. This transformation of use, space and air became a strong model for how the flute was approached in werkFalse.
For werkFalse, the flute is imagined as a kind of place. Both as a miniature tunnel-like architecture and metaphorically, as a ritual space that has been inhabited by players, listeners, and the human imagination. As a place it comes with associated uses/practices of performance. For the concert Boehm-system flute, this use is dictated heavily by “western classical values” like purity of tone and idealistic virtuosity. Beginning with a deconstructed ordinary western concert flute, these practices are re-routed, critiqued (both symbolically and verbally) in an effort to see past these values and (re)discover something hidden inside.
werkFalse came at a time when my frustrations with western notated music were boiling over. It wasn’t just something to rebel about, something that felt silly, it was something that had come to represent something personally painful to me. Instead of eliminating the score from werkFalse however, I asked to “consider this a tour of dead rooms” (ultra red, 1997). Diagrammatic and map-like designs were used to create modular performance options. These designs were attempts to stand in opposition to traditional scoring techniques which arguably limit the agency of the performer. Many of the diagrams are based on maps I made of the abandoned spaces and tunnels pictured above. Others are maps of individual letters and words of graffiti, and others still were maps of sounds on the flute that, at the time of writing, I had never heard before.
Recordings of this piece were initially going to be used in an installation component of werkFalse, where I would load sounds from the piece on solar-powered mp3 players and install them into the cold storage facility pictured above. Sadly the site was demolished before I had time to develop the tech for the installation.
This piece has inspired an ongoing sequel piece using homemade PVC woodwind instruments also in collaboration with Leia Slosberg.