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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Lone Twin 

I was a bit late coming in to lone twin this evening but before I could even see the pair, I was sold. What was I sold on? I'm still not sure but I'm a sucker for Springsteen and to enter to a Brit singing Thunder Road acapella was enough to catch my attention. The two men stood at microphones downstage left and right, a few props and accessories surrounding each. On a low table between them, various thermoses and bottles. Projected on a screen behind them were nature scenes, shakily filmed. For the next hour gregg whelan and gary winters traded off narrating what would seem to be a non-existent slide show. For example, "33 This is currency. 34 this is carbon. 35 this is nuts for energy/bananas for fun." How it related to what was playing on the screen behind them was really up to you. Most of the time that is.
As the nature scenes faded it began to be footage of Gregg and Gary walking. Back and forth and back. "This is us walking from somewhere in the North," pause as they cross the screen and exit on the other side only to re-enter heading in the opposite direction, "To somewhere in the South." A no look syncopation. "And this is what's going on behind us." And with that they'd pause the footage and the numbers to explain what it was we were actually seeing. In this clip they set up a white piece of tape on the floor of their studio 30 meters long. This was one 300th of the distance to the top of Mt. Everest so they took an hour and scaled the mountain back and forth right there in the studio. "But that's ridiculous," you say, "Walking back and forth inside is not nearly as difficult as scaling Everest." And you'd be right. And that's why they encumbered themselves with obstacles and full body fur suits.
I'm not sure anything I say can do the show justice. They'd keep going back to the numbers and would often repeat the same things. "This is currency. This is carbon. Nuts for energy/bananas for fun." They'd keep pausing the film and giving anecdotal explanations. "This is the sound some Portuguese men made out the window of their car at Gary as they were driving by" cue Gary. I'm not sure how but they managed to keep saying the same things, in the same way, and still constantly reveal new information, new dimensions. Their story unfolded outward and at the same time all they had said before got tighter and more coherent.
There were moments when they'd even leave something out: "That was before the discovery of_______" and they'd close their eyes as if to project what they were thinking non-verbally. I know I began to fill in their blanks with whatever came to mind; spontaneous, unrepeatable mad libs. The facts were unimportant. The jugs were samples from various bodies of water they'd visited. One, they claimed, was Springsteen. That I'm sure was a joke. So maybe everything was but I couldn't say for sure. And I think I'd rather believe them.
They told stories of people they met in their travels walking cities collecting water: A Norseman who played the guitar and walked with them all night as they crossed two bridges in his city repeatedly. They'd recorded a song of his that they played through a megaphone. They met an English woman in a fish cart with an affinity for World Cup soccer and a doubt that her beloved team could win. They shared with us the gestures she made when Beckham tied the game. They even worked the Sasquatch in and an acapella Because the Night (which, incidentally, the Boss did write regardless of whether you thought so or not). And interwoven with this was the sentiment that "they loved us" and they didn't want to leave.
It was tight, abstract, beautiful. Indescribable even. Surely more than a little is lost in translation. Layering, Repetition. Video, Movement, Singing. An uncanny economy with everything. Nothing was without bearing. And what was it all about? I'm unsure. But I liked it, nay, loved it, and the way it made me feel. Which was happy and comfortable, like everything will be OK. "Like a fountain. A sculpture. A church..."
To get a better sense of what I'm saying check out lone twin on Saturday. They'll be walking about town collecting water to boil so as to make a cloud. Walk with them if you're so inclined. If nothing else it'll be an experience. .


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