LEST WE SEE WHERE WE ARE is Hampton's latest in a series of 'autoteatro' works exploring voice - ignored or buried aspects of it - and the second made together with Tim Etchells (after The Quiet Volume, for 'Parallel Cities', 2010). Their focus this time is explicitly on articulation, or what Kleist calls 'das Verfertigen der Gedanken beim Reden' - The Manufacture of Ideas while Speaking. Beginning indoors, safe behind a window with a view onto the outside world, the challenge today becomes clear. Like a blocked-up radio, we're filled to the brim with voices, with information about the world. Time now to sift through it, to attempt an articulation, to fail publicly if need be, to keep trying, and to make the effort contagious.
You're standing in the street holding a large radio against your chest. The voice coming out of it is loud, and reverberates in the street. But unlike the usual amplified rants focussing on singular matters of politics, religion etc, this voice you're 'holding' doesn't seem to be very sure of itself. Wracked with worry, it addresses the public as one might a personal therapist, ridiculously exposed, openly tripping up and contradicting itself as it works through ideas and fears in real time.
No-one actually hears the voice though, except you. People walk by. The sound of the voice resonating around you is relayed binaurally to the headphones you're wearing, and made palpable via synchronised and inaudible bass tones vibrating the radio in your arms. As the sole listener you're at once following what's being said and imagining being responsible for it.
Lest We See Where We Are is re-written and re-recorded for each location.
Commissioned by PERFORMING CITIES NETWORK (Dresden, Krakau, Basel, Gent)
For more information check: www.anthampton.com
text: Tim Etchells & Ant Hampton
dramaturg/research: Jessica Huber
audio platform/development: Toby Duckworth
radio design: Boris Belay
recording advice: Tito Toblerone
thanks also to: Kate McIntosh, Britt Hatzius, Stefan Kaegi, Mladen Dolar
Photo: Britt Hatzius, Ant Hampton