Before you read on, I recommend that you first experience and explore this work online at:
Window (2012) composed by Katharine Norman in memory of John Cage is presented online, and the listener interacts with various functions on a website, controlling how and what they listen to, and for how long. The sounds are familiar recordings from Norman’s home environment categorised into various months, and accompanying these are photographs, text and words. The functions unfold through discovery; the user is not told how to interact with this interface. Words appear, when you expect sound to, but the more you interact, the more you learn. The words are very evocative – nuggets to explore when the mind drifts while listening and takes you back to the location / place. In August the sound of the curtains opening brings the creator into the place. There is a memory for me with that movement; the outside opening up and likewise the personal space embracing the outside. It is such a familiar sound to many and one which denotes our cocoon called home, our privacy. We hear the sounds outside, but we don’t see them. Other times we choose to view these sources, usually out of curiosity or wonder. This stood out to me, a familiar motif to display this separation between the two. You also hear the action of what you presume is the composer or at least their personal life.
Window brings about a curiosity in the listener to explore this place through interfacing with the various sounds, images, words and text – making their own experience. The listener can become very lost in this work; ‘Losing distinction between here and there, now and then’ (Norman, 2012). While my mind initially wanted to explore in a more logical manner, in the way I normally interact on a website – I ended up losing myself and realising that this was a much better way to interact with the work; to ‘stop thinking’, disengage from logic. In a sense this reminded me of how we behave when we perform music, we sometimes get ‘lost’ as musical events unfold. I believe musicians need to switch off, let things happen and unfold when performing, composing or creating; not let too much ‘thinking’ get in the way in order to do something interesting creatively.
In the end, this is what happened as I continued to explore Window, I wanted to explore and understand but I ended up performing without realising it. Norman transported me into her place, but I steered.