Experiencing the Strangeness of Eternity (@NYC)

Imagine walking around TriBeCa, NYC, on a Saturday and hearing a faint buzz. You walk up to a seemingly ordinary apartment and get rung in. You then walk up three flights of stairs and enter a room. Imagine, then, being surrounded by rays of purple light and wisps of incense. The buzz is now an enormous, complex drone that is unchanging. You take a seat on the carpeted floor, and witness nothing other than purple walls, shadows, and this fixed drone.

You stay seated for an hour, and nothing really changes. It’s the same sound, same light, same shadows. However, the shadows dangle a little bit, and the sound changes when you move your head. After being here for a while, you notice minute intricacies of the drone and light. The sound and light are complex, though fixed in time and space. People come and go, sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours.

I was at the Dream House three years ago. As I write this, the sound and light is still being generated. Here I am three years ago, getting buzzed in:


I’ve changed, the Dream House pretty much has not.

The Dream House is a concept by La Monte Young and his wife Marian Zazeela. It dates back to 1966. Young is credited as the “grandfather of minimalist music.” His work spontaneously inspired a generation that involves Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Cale, and plenty of others. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then think of the general  art scene of downtown Manhattan during the 60’s. Some of La Monte Young’s counterparts include Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and Lou Reed.

La Monte Young’s main goal was to have people experience sound inside of it. He wanted us to appreciate sound in the physical sense, and witness the objective harmony of noise and waveform. He was also concerned with the concept of eternity. He was fascinated with machinery and tortoises, both being symbols of prolongation.

What I appreciate about Young’s work is that it’s pretty straightforward. It’s not art that you spend days contemplating and laboring to understand, just to conclude that the meaning was that there is no meaning. Young’s work has a meaning and it’s simple: each moment is a representation of eternity. And though this is simple, trying to experience this eternity with full and uninterrupted awareness can be quite challenging. It’s what Zen practitioners spend years trying to master (through the ironic method of not trying).

This is not to say that Young’s works aren’t bizarre. They are. One of his works is entitled Map of 49’s Dream The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery. A recorded portion of this work, 31 VII 69 10:26-10:49 PM, is 23 minutes of voices and sine waves.

Drones can drive some people crazy. And that’s okay. You don’t have to like it. You do have to understand, though, that the drone itself has no intent. It’s your mind and thought that is driving you crazy. The drone simply is.

Take a look at some pictures, and if you decide to go, visit the website for more information. As a weirdo/New York state native, I highly recommend it.

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3 thoughts on “Experiencing the Strangeness of Eternity (@NYC)

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