The Force of Things is an immersive work of music theater that wrestles with the animate vitality of matter and the mounting hum of ecological anxiety around us. The project is driven by a desire to tune our focus toward a rate of change and a scope of alteration at odds with the scale of human life. Audience members enter into a field of sculpted matter ringed by speakers emitting sounds too low for humans to hear. Though they vibrate under the threshold of audibility, this choir of subwoofers causes waveforms that ripple through and activate the material space. Aircraft cables, tensioned web-like across the 150-foot performance space, double as infrastructure and instrument when bowed like mammoth double basses. Two singers snake side-by-side amidst the audience, shouting a warning that sounds like a whisper in a language no one can understand. The piece has a palpable sense of urgency and yet it’s eerily still, as if the time scales are off, as if some future frantic state reaches us only in slow motion. These moves attempt to train our perception beyond its apparent boundaries—below the sounds we’re built to hear and through the illusions of stasis and separation that render us still in the face of collapse.
The Force of Things is for two singers and five instrumentalists. Performers and audience members move throughout a site-specific installation where twenty-four subwoofer speaker cones serve as kinetic engines that activate a saturated material environment. The performance was first performed at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse (Darmstadt Summer Course for New Music) in August 2016, and more recently as part of the Lincoln Center's 2018 Mostly Mozart Festival.