Michel Lorand






In his work as a visual artist Michel Lorand continues to explore the possibility of appearances generated by chance. To erase, to take the disappearance – of things and author – to the extreme until a new object appears, unpredictable, devoid of all psychology. To quote Mallarmé: “NOTHING – WILL HAVE TAKEN PLACE – BUT THE PLACE – EXCEPT – PERHAPS – A CONSTELLATION”.

The starting point for Lorand’s new project Fading is the one-act opera for soprano Neither, composed by Morton Feldman in 1976-1977. “The libretto consists of a 16-line monologue by Samuel Beckett that hovers on the edge of narrative: ‘to and fro in shadow from inner to outer shadow / from impenetrable self to impenetrable unself by way of neither’. [...] Time in the opera would seem to be diluted, echoing the

‘suspended time’ so valued by the author. [...] Feldman’s music, confined to the higher register, verging on silence, is an interweaving of repetitive cells and ultra-slow orchestral layers, with the soprano occasionally slipping in as if to draw together the threads of an invisible and impossible drama.” *

Lorand takes the 122 pages of the opera score, and reproduces and then erases them one by one, carefully and systematically, in a ‘palimpsest’ operation using the same sheet of paper. This is done on a Toshiba e-Studio 306LP copier with ‘erasable’ blue ink; a second machine makes the ink transparent by treating it at high temperature. But repetition of the copying-erasing operation on a single A4 print 122 times leaves a series of marks and streaks that provide a sort of ‘ghost’ imprint of the entire score. As the process continues, these criss-cross lines become clearer, finally producing an actual warp and weft diagram, a genuine tapestry cartoon.

With his passion for oriental carpets and kilims Feldman was to liken his 122-page score to ‘a sort of grid, fixed in structure like a weaving loom’. So the project culminates in the weaving of a tapestry (180 cm x 280 cm), based on the ‘A4 print’, and the commissioning of a score for MIDI keyboard by Jean-Luc Fafchamps. The piece is constructed according to the ‘Feldman method’ of overlaying musical strata and then dissolving them by reducing the volume. It is first performed live and then followed by a long series of repetitions on a computer-controlled player piano, consisting of superimposed musical phrases subtly flowing into and separating from one another until the slow development comes to a sudden stop and the performance ends.

Fading by Lorand and Fafchamps is an installation-performance that leads paradoxically from disappearance – the forgotten at its most forceful – to the creation of something unexpected.

*Festival d’automne à Paris, press release : Neither – Feldman/Beckett, Paris 2007