In your face the longest light

by Caitlin


Photo by Paul Blakemore

In Your Face the Longest Light was a work in progress exhibited at the Sanctum experience, conceptualised by Theastre Gates and produced by Situations. 16 minutes long, and requiring all participants to immerse themselves in listening, the piece invited the audience to wear blindfolds. The sound piece was a musical and poetic investigation into the themes of love and fear, explored through interviews with four participants.

The interest in designing listening spaces where sight is removed is not specifically relevant to this work, but rather a concept and a mechanism that I am examining through my PhD. By incorporating this aspect into the work, I was responding to two key questions I have been asking myself. 1) How to make the invitation to become blindfolded in a group context 2) What qualities of experience for audiences listening to sound documentary are evoked by inviting sight deprivation? 3) What is the effect on embodied experience of listening if sight is removed?

I was able to collect some feedback from the experience, and comments were very insightful. Powerful, amazing, transporting, captivating were words used. Every night was very different, as part of the experience is to do with maintaining a flow of continuous sound. This meant that In Your Face the Longest Light responded in a live setting to performers who went before and after the experience. On the last night, myself and a female folk singer decided to blur the boundaries of authorship, and not introduce her, but instead have her starting to sing as soon as the last note played from In Your Face the Longest Light. Feedback from this particular live process was mixed, and some people commented on feeling confused as they didn’t know when both pieces has started and ended. This was particularly interesting, as I have been toying with the idea of authorship and boundaries of authorship in terms of how work is presented. Most of the audience remained blindfolded into the other work, suggesting a comfort associated with the blindfold. Some people expressed feeling frsutrated at not being given closure of experience, which demarcates a cultural expectation to consume a cultural whole instead of fragments, or more fluid transformative pieces.

In terms of participating in Sanctum as an artist, I thought the space was incredibly sensual and soft, encouraging a quietness, and an invitation to listen ; sound was the main creative medium conveyed within the space. Inviting random audience groups to have a collective and spontaneous listening experience, is particularly interesting, and reminds me of the importance of listening. Something discussed in this Ted talk, The Act of Listening.