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Kidnapping Bottled Water

I’m singing in the premiere of Byron Au Yong’s epic performance piece “Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas” and tomorrow is the first day of our site-specific performances. There are 64 different sites involved in this piece – Byron is clearly fearless when it comes to logistics. Each site for this particular incarnation of the piece is a body of water in King County, Washington. When I say “body of water,” that includes man-made features such as fountains or culverts in addition to rivers, lakes, stream, and ocean.

The beautiful music that Byron has written is a set of very carefully crafted vignettes; each of the 64 miniatures is set for a single singer and a percussionist, and the percussionist uses his hands or implements made from natural materials to play the water found at the site. For this go, each singer has 16 pieces to learn. They are all quite different, and the longest that I have is probably five minutes. With pieces that short, in locations as unusual as we will be using, it should be clear that this is guerrilla art: you won’t find yourself trundling off to Echo Lake in order to wait around to hear me sing for three minutes. Like all good guerrilla art, this piece is political, taking on the issues that surround bottled water – world water supply, haves versus have-nots, indestructible plastic garbage, the destruction of our natural resources, etc.

The piece will be performed again as part of the Bumbershoot Festival, and the archival materials from both performances, such as sound recording, photographs, video, and water samples, will be used to create an installation piece at Jack Straw New Media Gallery that will be up in September. Besides tomorrow’s performance, I will be out and about, singing, on 16 August, so watch for me in your local bog, fountain, or watering trough! (Not kidding – I will perform in all of these…)