Copyright 2012

Raqs Media Collective

The Bus Stop, 4'36'', 2010

The Bus Stop, the piece you will present in the festival, was part of a project called "Can you say that again? (5 Uneasy Pieces)", which was first presented as an outdoor audio theatre in Anyang, Korea, in 2010. Can you tell something about the project?

Five Uneasy Pieces is an intimate portable outdoor audio theater suite. This cycle of enacted spoken word recordings narrates five episodes of anchorage and dislocation. Part public furniture, part listening station - we reference real estate, urban folklore and architecture, combining notions of utility and fantasy - to create uncanny resonances across private experience and public memory.

The work was produced with two aspects. One was a public sculpture which also functioned as park furniture to sit and listen to the piece. The other was a set of five soundtracks of scripted audio-dramas, written by us, translated into Korean, and performed by a team of actors experienced in radio drama.

The scripts were based on research and notes taken by us during our visits to Anyang while developing the project. We interviewed several inhabitants of Anyang, collected and interpreted information on the growth of the city, and imaginatively synthesized all the inputs they received into a set of uncanny exchanges set in Anyang, One of these takes place in an elevator, another at a bus stop, a third is an exchange with an interior decorator, a fourth looks at surveillance camera footage, and the fifth is about piano lessons in apartment blocks. Together, the recordings (with narratives that move between public and private space) and the installation in public space present a singular take on urban growth and its consequences in Anyang, or, any city in the throes of real estate driven transformation.

Can you talk about the use of the term "operetta" you used to describe this series of works?

Well, we use the term operetta in the sense of a reference to the soap opera form, which as we know is the earliest form of radio drama. We use the diminutive of 'operetta', as we want to suggest a lighter, more agile and flexible form.

Were there any audio pieces, or radio theatre works that inspired you?

We find radio drama an interesting form because of its disembodiment, because of the way in which one has to imagine space purely through auditory clues. There is also a sense in which the pieces are designed as fugues, with an insistence on a formal structure in which aspects of the pieces mirror and follow each other. You could say this resonates with the kind of music we like listening to - Bach fugues, Free Jazz, and the mirrored arabesques of Hindustani Classical Music forms.

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