Performance: “Reading Governors Island,” June 12-13, 2010

On June 12th and 13th, 2010, the Glass Bees presented an interactive, site-specific performance on Governor’s Island, a former military facility just off the southern tip of Manhattan, as part of the FIGMENT festival. “Reading Governors Island” combined sound, images, and audience-contributed spoken word in to explore the island’s history within the context of an interactive multimedia performance.

We began by collecting texts that suggest how others have seen, experienced, and imagined Governor’s Island over the last two centuries. Some were historical texts, others more recent. (If you like, read all the texts as a PDF.) We also visited the island in advance of the festival to make audio field recordings, take photographs, and paint sketches of locations on the island. Galleries of the visual elements are below. An excerpt of Saturday’s performance and Sunday’s rain-soaked performance are available for listening/download.

At the event, we first invited FIGMENT attendees to read aloud from our collection of texts. We recorded their voices, and later each day mixed them with our field recordings to create an amplified audio collage that brought past and present, environment and human intervention, and performers and audience into play. The performance took place on the western waterfront of the island, beneath an installation fashioned from rope, tent poles, and the images we produced.

We thank Leaha Villarreal and the other FIGMENT organizers for including us and all of their work to make this event possible.

We’re grateful to Anthony Zic and Nadene Dolan for their help loading out in the rain, and to Greg Harrison for his assistance in getting our gear to the island and setting it all up, taking lots of great photos, and even doing a bit of the sound collage performance himself.

And finally, extra special thanks to our nearly 100 participants, who lent us their voices and brought the written word to life. We don’t know how to spell their names, but we know what they sound like—here’s a sound file of all the participants’ names.

There is a video and three galleries of still images below. They may take a while to load. For the galleries, click each pic for the next one, or use the thumbnails.

"Reading Governors Island" as it occurred. (Most photos by Greg; some by Anthony, Jason, or Chris):

Sketches by Jason:

Photographs by Chris: