Posted on September 24th, 2015
In a room in a building in Edmonton, Luciana D’Annunciação sits perfectly still: amidst a tight-knit crowd, on the floor, with her speaker; breathing, she begins, drawing us in through the darkness; no shoes, and no socks — for this is an intimate affair. That’s the first word I wrote down in my notes: “Intimate.” The speaker lounges on its side, the cord bunches in relaxed coils, and Luciana is there, embedded in the sound. And so are we. Three benches pulled away from the wall sit near the centre of the room, barely a metre from the action. There are no wallflowers in this dance. Everyone is close, huddled on benches, stooped over Luciana, listening to her breath tug through the space.
If her previous performance was an elastic band being pulled until it snapped, this one is a harp whose strings are plucked to provide perfect transitions throughout. From sound to sound.
She walks out and looks into the eyes of every observer. She crawls behind the speaker and it comes to life with a pop. Then the mixer, with a silent twist. Standing, she removes her boots and her socks, kneels on the floor before the speaker then crawls behind it again. Her movements are furtive and catlike. She picks up the microphone, eases on the volume, presses the machine against her pursed lips, and twists. At a point difficult to indicate but impossible to ignore, the sound of her breathing slowly separates from the ambient white noise: the rumble of cars in the distance, the crackle of the very air, the buckets of blood rushing through ears.
Her breath parts from the environment, like a sea in the distance, like wind in the trees, then it crosses a gate as the volume increases, and it becomes something denser than the atmosphere — she detaches from the volume knob. Her lips part, and she eases towards the speaker with a vibrant thrum of mild feedback. It holds. It builds. It becomes something beyond sound, a tone beyond our senses — then she tilts over her crossed legs, and the feedback trills like a throaty lion, sweeps by in a doppler effect or a train made of light and sound and the threshold of pain. Each spectator is fixed, and so is she, speared to the space. Then a leg swoops back, her toes spread, and she bends forward, one leg out and one beneath, torso on the floor in an alien embrace.
Then she’s back up on her knees, like an ocelot about to pounce, but her neck collapses and her head tucks to the floor as the feedback wobbles and the feedback spikes. On her elbow and knees she surrenders to the noise, flicking the mic away like droplets of sound. Her shoulder blades pop, and the tool tucks into her head while the sound rockets by, ever intense, a slow spread pose, an arched back in repose, with mic held high, and a series of throes — she writhes in no ecstasy, the feedback churning through her — it overwhelms, her arms raised, again in surrender. She looks at us, she looks at the speaker, she turns away. The cardioid seeks her hair, nuzzling her cheek and brow. The mic hops off her head to trace the floor, making a rusty, awkward sound. It sniffs at feet, lining their rough, amplifying edges. Pauses. A thrum like a beaten drum — sudden speed alleviates the decline, and with the circuit complete, the feedback roars.
She retreats into the darkness and the mic retreats into the folds by her hip, the pelvic contours, the rustle and yarn; the grinding, silent scream of a high pitched refrain. She’s falling, impaled on the sound and it’s thane. The dagger of noise hauled out of her only when the threat is a sound looking to maim.
She curls back up, and her foot returns to a foundation, the mic goes back to her lips, and she edges towards the mixer. She breathes. Her body is swaying, her breath complete; swipes of sound pepper the room, while deft fingers tease the volume control, thumb and index nesting the knob, breath pulsing, feedback howling from a furlong away. Luciana breathes. She’s a sine wave riding the room — and a twist — fingers tightening on the knob, and the rhythm swaying as the body collapses, and a spike, and a breath, and a rocking bod, and one last great inversion of lungs, and a twist, and she stands, and —