RESTLESS is an interactive performance installation by Rulon Brown that premiered June 6-16, 2013 at Paul Rucker’s Open Studio Project Gallery in Seattle.
Inspired by America’s broken medical system and the restless sleep of The American Dream, Rulon created this work to explore the barriers of community, what we share, and what we keep to ourselves.
50 identical headphones hang from 50 intravenous drip poles to play 50 unique accompaniments that blend with live solo performance. This video montage includes saxophone and room sounds that were recorded during live interactive performances. It also contains several of the pre-composed MP3 accompaniments people may have heard through the headphones.
Seattle Weekly Arts Editor, Brian Miller, described the “oddly communal, intimate experience.”
“Rulon Brown, whose Restless debut drew an avid audience during this month’s First Thursday art walk. Dangling from hospital IV stands are 50 red headphones with little mp3 players attached. On cue, Brown and his audience don the headphones, then he solos his alto sax over the track you’re hearing—each one different from your neighbors’, all of them composed by Brown. It’s an oddly communal, intimate experience. Headphones usually isolate the listener, but in Restless they unite the small standing audience. “It’s about community and how we create it and recreate it,” says Brown. “It’s playing with this idea of what we share and what we keep to our selves. Nobody can know what anyone else is hearing. It’s like when you’re sitting on the bus and you think you know what someone’s listening to.”
“For Restless—also the name of a larger body of work that includes Brown’s jewelry—audio cues sometimes direct listeners to remove their headphones and lift them overhead. It’s a neat bit of group choreography, with the 50 different compositions suddenly joining together in the high-ceilinged space. The total performance time is about 10 minutes.”