Ben Miller

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Open-Air Concerts

PERFORMANCE AUDIENCE RELATIONSHIPS

Several years ago, I became disenchanted with live performance; the ordinary bond between performer and audience. I felt its reality important to expand or change - at least for me. Much has already been done since the ’60s so yes there is plenty of research to be had. However, my primary reason was not so much "to do something new" through presentation, but rather to stop agreeing with the expected Artist Audience relationship.

My first thought was to forgo the entire concept of advertisement as this is what begets the setting whereby the performance audience relationship is intended to occur; the Artist needs the Audience to validate the work and the Audience is there to judge the Artist’s product. Next, the performance should reside in a setting that is not purposefully intended for performance. The token Stage vs. Chairs or Dance Floor must cease since this divides the two and perpetuates the standard relationship of playing vs. listening. While I do relate to live performance presented off the actual stage (in the audience area for example), the intention to break the Fourth Wall and to merge with the audience is not exactly my intention either.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve explored a self-deconstructed Gibson Kalamazoo with several pickups routed through different amplifiers. Its sound is devoid of chords and melodies relying on shape and texture instead. Performance areas such as junkyards, abandoned buildings and graveyards are particularly appropriate. Due to the unforeseen danger and illegality of said locations, these "gigs" would most likely have no audience whatsoever - not to mention the possibility of injuring myself or acquiring a big fine from the authorities. Even if someone nearby became curious as to "what was happening", attending the "concert" would most likely not be possible. That said, forests, open fields and hidden beaches are just as intriguing a location for a multiphonic performance. So, this begs the question; "what is my audience?" Rats? Ghosts? Deer? random Passersby? Does it matter? The point here is the performer and the audience are no longer in a formal relationship. The Art is presented with no preconceived notion of doing anything specific or in need of gaining something outside of its own experience.

Abandoned Concerts to date:
Eastown Theater, Packard Land, Grande Ballroom — Detroit MI, 2015

Next Open-Air Concert: summer 2018 at a yet undisclosed location in or near Detroit MI

(photo of Ben Miller 2015 performance @ Grande Ballroom, Detroit
by Brett Moyer)

November, 2017