Holcombe Waller: Wayfinders

A formidable music project, Wayfinders is an MCA commission and was developed in residency at the MCA earlier this year.

[excerpt from performance]

A lot of people (a lot of people) would see this (would see this) and they say (and they say) "Wow."

[end of excerpt]

My particular interests lied in a very broad, conceptual question that I think we face every day, which is how we interface with technology more and more to mediate our relationship with people, places and things and I create interdisciplinary work that presents music as a theatrical endeavor because I am trying to really meld all of the elements I’m working with.

So the setting of Wayfinders is a bit unusual. It’s a mainframe of mind-space formally known as the ethnosphere, which is the sum total of all ideas and cultures and languages of the Earth similar in a way that the biosphere is the sum total of all living organisms.

What Wayfinders has in common with the predecessor piece, Surfacing, is they both explore how progress can be a double-edged sword of connection and disconnection. While we have more and more ways to connect and more and more ways to get to each other those methods, those technologies tend to be increasingly mediating our personal/physical autonomy to actually get to somebody, and modernity just allows us to be further apart, allows us to be more in touch over great distances.

While it is slightly dystopic, I think there’s a very positive message in both pieces because they’re both asking the audience to reflect very personally on our current time and place and the ways in which the things that we’re very accustomed to use every day can actually bring us further apart.

Wayfinders does speak to the most basic need we have to connect with each other and that longing and a certain sense of missing some kind of connection that we imagine existed in the past before our connection became mediated by a certain abstraction that then translated in technology and moved forward. I think it makes the broader point that we’ve always had that challenge and that we’re carrying that challenge forward in new and never-before-experienced ways.

It’s just something that we’ll probably continue to try to address culturally and so I think the piece is just my own sort of artistic creative gesture of pointing towards that and saying this is the most basic human need and how is it going to evolve and how has it even evolved in a way that we’re not even presently aware of.

[excerpt from performance]

You made your safety our number one. Herald, herald, herald, you are number one.

[end of excerpt]