Trio for speaker screen and viewer
Richard Felciano (1968, National Center for Experiments in Television)
This excerpt is from the end of part two, during which the viewer is encouraged to switch on and off “ordinary household appliances” to accompany the broadcast sounds and images as a trio. Frankly, the piece works fine as a duo.
Full transcription of the introductory narration—Felciano voiceover with sporadic intertitles (in parentheses)—follows:
There are three elements to a television experience: a speaker, (a screen), and the viewer (that’s you). These three elements each contribute something essential to the experience of viewing television. They are as performers in a piece of music or players in a game. It is possible (therefore) to construct a trio for the three of us to play—a trio for speaker, screen, and viewer.
The trio must be performed in darkness except for the light which comes from the TV set. For your part in the trio you will need in front of the TV set some ordinary kitchen glasses filled to various levels with water (plus a few pots & bowls) and anything else from the kitchen that will make a variety of sounds when struck. You’ll need a teaspoon to strike them (gently!). You’ll also need a few ordinary household appliances at hand near the TV set: a vacuum cleaner, an electric mixer, an electric toothbrush, for instance—as many (or as few) as you like.
The piece is in two parts. In part one you make short sounds any way you like by tapping glass bowls, pots with the spoon. When you see the word (“stop’) on the screen, that’s the signal to put down the spoon and begin part two.
In part two you make long sounds by turning on and off motors of any or all of the appliances you have with you in front of the set, and doing so in any way you like. Part two is completed when you see the word (“stop”) on the screen the second time. Turn off the motors of the appliances, then get up and turn on the room light. This is your part in the trio. (The screen) and the speaker have their own parts which you will become aware of during the piece. Remember that at any point you can change the total effect by the way that you play. More than one person can play, each one taking one glass and one appliance, for instance.
You now have three minutes in which to gather the glasses, bowls, pans, and appliances in front of the TV set. During this time the screen will figure prominently. [The screen displays a digital timer that counts off the three minutes prior to part one.]
(Lights out.) Play!