The above photograph was taken from the audience gallery. It shows the musicians slowly exploring the space using the echolocation devices. The sound is an excerpt taken from the performance. 


Lucier's Vespers (1968) focuses on auditory perception and spatial orientation. Despite the possibly ironic reference to religious music, the name Vespers refers to vesper bats, or evening bats. These animals navigate space through echolocation — the ability to recognise space by listening to the reflections of emitted sounds. Their spatial awareness is auditory rather than visual. 


In Vespers, performers are equipped with hand-held echolocation devices (clickers) emitting short, sharp sounds at variable intervals. While listening to these pulses and their reflections from the walls, the blindfolded performers can explore the spatial characteristics of the room using only sound.

Vespers is an exploration of space through listening, in which the returning echoes of the emitted clicks carry ‘information as to the shape, size, and substance of that environment and the objects in it.’ [10] Vespers brings a performative dimension to the sonic exploration of the space.

PLAY used the score of Vespers as a structural element, an interlude between the four sections of the work. Its text-score was projected onto the wall, while the brass players laid down their instruments to explore the dark rooms blindfolded. Using the clickers, they slowly moved throughout the spaces, at times clumsily bumping into one another or the walls. 


Alvin Lucier is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations who focuses on the exploration of sound and space as an expressive performative quality. He approaches sound as a physical material, allowing him to develop a sonic relation with architectural spaces.


"Thinking of sounds as measurable wavelengths, instead of as high or low musical notes, has changed my whole idea of music from a metaphor to a fact and, in a real way, has connected me to architecture." [9]

I am sitting in a room became a methodology for articulating, more than simply an acoustic profile, a sonic identity of the space, which could then immerse the audience in a shared context. 


I am sitting in a room (1970) features a recording of Lucier's voice played back into a room and re-recorded over and over again. As the repetitive process continues, the resonant frequencies of the room, as heard in the voice, are reinforced, while others are gradually reduced. The space filters the sound, smoothing out the irregularities of Lucier's voice. 


In PLAY the same acoustic phenomena were recreated. We recorded the sounds of squash playing, and two voices reading the last section of Vespers. They were recorded and played back into the space again and again, as in I am sitting in a room. The resulting sounds informed the main musical and sound material used throughout the performance. 



This video excerpt shows this process during the project’s presentation: one of the squash players, playing against the pre-recorded video of himself. The audio is an excerpt from the sound at the end of the process initiated above.