string quartet [15’]
written for the JACK Quartet
4/20/2014 - JACK Quartet. Stanford University. Stanford, CA
3/2/2013 - JACK Quartet. Harvard University. Cambridge, MA.
Central to Gerhard Richter’s post-1988 abstract paintings is the concept of the drag: after applying a layer of paint, he then drags a typically canvas-sized Rakel across the surface, effectively eviscerating the previous orientation of the paint and therefore radically altering the image. The drag functions both to displace the paint from its fixity upon the canvas, and to tear asunder the paint’s surface, thereby revealing the accumulated subjacent layers. The result isn’t so much a disorganization of form, but a paraorganization of formal surface articulation.
Decke, which takes its title from the 1988 work in which Richter solidified his Rakel technique, is shrouded by way of the drag. Materially, the performers’ bows act as the Rakel, smearing the sound into a dedifferentiated body. Formally, the drag transforms musical events into glacial erratic: material displaced from its origin. The piece is a weathered monolith, its surface and form eroded such that subsumed sedimentary strata periodically reveal themselves, to the point that the aural surface only suggests its corporeal form. The drag functions to simultaneously reveal and shroud the figure, enveloping it in a blanket of smeared aural moraine.