Suzanne Farrin: Hypersea (2018)—JACK Quartet & Colin Currie
Nov 16, 2019
Christopher Otto, Austin Wulliman, violins
John Pickford Richards, viola
Jay Campbell, cello
Colin Currie, waterphone and bowed vibraphone
Hypersea for string quartet and percussion had its New York premiere at 92nd Street Y’s Buttenwieser Hall on November 16, 2019. Suzanne Farrin wrote this note to accompany the work:
“Sixty to ninety percent of your bodily matter is composed of water. Water, in this sense, is an entity, individualized as that relatively stable thing you call your body. But water has other logics, other patternings and means of buoying our earthly world, too. Not least, water is a conduit and mode of connection. Just as oceanic currents convey the sun’s warmth, school of fish, and islands of degraded plastic from one planetary sea to another, our water bodies serve as material media. In an evolutionary sense, living bodies are necessary for the proliferation of what scientists Mark and Dianna McMenamin call Hypersea, which arose when life moved out of marine waters and by necessity folded a water habitat “back on itself.” Today, when you or I drink a glass of water, we amplify this Hypersea, as we sustain our existence through other “webs of physical intimacy and fluid exchange.”
A good friend of mine, Aroussiak Gabrielian, pointed me to above text by Astrida Neimanis (“Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water”) after a late-night conversation about the water in and around us. The essay turned my world upside down. What does it mean that we did not leave the ocean behind, but rather, brought it with us when life walked out of the sea? What does it mean to think that our bodies, bacteria, and most spectacularly for me, trees, are like packages of water, reaching three dimensionally across the surface of the earth, like a water planet?
In this piece, I tried to express a sense that material dissolves but does not disappear. I wished for a sound world where the sine wave-purity of the vibraphone would sink into the wood and hair of earthen string bodies. I imagined that the movements of the bow across all five players would visually display momentary synchronicities and evaporation. I dreamed of a physical realization of our undeniable connectedness: a musical hypersea.
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