Earlier this week I got to see Laurie Anderson's performance of her new work "The End of the Moon" at UCSB's Campbell Hall. Quite an interesting show, but not what I was expecting!
Over her time with NASA, she visited many centers, including Ames and JPL, and she shared many stories about her experiences. I guess I thought it would be more "spacey," using imagery from the great history of the agency, but the piece was more about cosmology than anything else. Quite a lot about deep time and wide space, symmetry and broken symmetry, cyclic vs. linear time, simultanaeity, micro scales and cosmic scales, location and motion. She's never very overt, so these ideas kind of sneak up on your subconscious through the music and stories.
Another theme was Art and Science; she did a bit about choosing colors for Hubble photos, saying NASA already had artists in residence. (Phil? BA=Bad Artist?)
Interestingly, she did bring some polictical commentary into it as well, but given her abilities it was never maudlin or preachy.
She did have a story about testing the rovers in the Mojave - and tied it in with a bit about knowing where you are - and a sense of place.
She said her only regret from the whole NASA project was "not being able to ride the Vomit Comet." What a woman!
The set was very sparse, one chair, one projector and a mini rig in the middle for her violin and keyboard. Lots of candles on the stage floor.
If you like her solo work, I would say that you would like this piece. I found it more enjoyable than Happiness, which was composed right after 9-11. But if you are expecting the full Peter Gabriel - Adrian Belew - band and video show, this probably isn't for you.
But hey - you have got to love a concert that thanks Timothy Ferris in the program!