There is nothing typical about what's going down at Harwood Art Space on Friday night, you'll think.
Oh sure, the event is christened with the highly generic name of "Sound & Vision" and its description of "an evening featuring experimental, electronic and improvisational music, dance and film presented by local artists" barely caught your notice. Hell, this event could easily fly far below your own personal cultural radar, much less Albuquerque's. Still, you soon realize, this is one program adding up to absolutely more than the sum of its parts.
Presented in Harwood's bottom-floor auditorium, a look around the "stage" provides some idea of what's to come. Drums, a standing bass, turntables, an Imac - all the tricks of the electronic music trade - litter the front area as you settle into your no-frills folding metal chair.
From somewhere out of the chaos, an emcee appears to announce in a Steven Wright tone of voice the first act of, oh say, a dozen in the evening's program. Perhaps some nice jazzy trance will kick things off or poetry and synthesizer music by Chuck Hawley. No doubt the acoustic stuff and butoh performances - really - will come later.
"Has the first act started?" you may ask yourself when wobbling tones come from any number of speakers. Most of the few dozen assembled maintain their conversation; a four-year-old or two kick around, sometimes enraptured by the music.
Meanwhile, should the soundscapes presented by the DJs intermittently dotting the program, the "Vision" bit of the "Sound & Vision" moniker glues your eyes to the back wall like an attention deficient insect to fascinating flypaper.
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A trio of images - cameras and film provided by those earnest folks over at Basement Films - move behind the musical and dance acts. You may see kitschy astronaut documentaries combined with cartoons about geometry, or an instructional baseball film juxtaposed with reels portraying sea anemones.
As though this post-postmodern image trickery weren't enough, the cameras do not stay stationary. Try to keep your eyes from following the circumnavigating loops of schoolchildren playing.
Meanwhile, the conversations continue. Soon, you're participating, too, as each observer attempts to apply meaning in the barrage of music and sound. "Wow, check out that diagram of aspirin's effects on the brain next to the angelfish. Trippy," you may observe, while your compadre in sound and vision retorts, "Wait for singing trio."
"Sound & Vision" is ... well, it's an event that defies description. Rest assured, it's one serious eyeful, one major earful and it's all up to each who attends to extract meaning. A true democratic form of art? Perhaps, but you don't care. All you know is that the music, the images, the performances are strangely addictive. You don't care what "Sound & Vision" is precisely, but you know you need it again.
"Sound & Vision," an evening of music, film and performance, is at the Harwood Art Space, Friday at 7 p.m. Admission is $6. For more information, call 933-9588 or 842-0384.