The air outside of Eau Claire Market was cold, bracing, and charged; I could feel it keening with a potential that I couldn’t hear, drawing people to gather around a strange site/sight. It was a grain bin, but it wasn’t. To me it looked more like a battery, with two polarized ends. There was an anode connected to the earth via wooden pilings, and a yellow capped aperture, opened to the night air, which constituted a cathode. What was basically a projection of my imagination took the force of reality when I peeked inside the bin door and saw a variety of instruments, both utilitarian and musical, and three men enter the space at the clanging an iron triangle, ready to vibrate the air around them. Practical consideration for the possibility that the bin was suspended on a wooden frame and opened at the top to enhance the acoustic qualities of the space could no longer matter to me: there was the earth, the air, the medium, itself composed of a “casing” (the bin) and the “voltaic pile” (the performers), and us watching of course.
As the performance began, the entire crowd was shuffled away from the tiny doorway to the broad side of the bin, where the there was a sound board for mixing and a projector feeding video taken of the inside against the metal exterior. The first notes were like those of a tuning fork, sonar pings pulsing over the vicinity to find resonance with us. The sound entered my ears, danced through my bones, and set my feet to tapping. I could see others begin to sway unconsciously, entranced. We passed our vibrations along through the earth, through the wood, back into bin, and out through the top into the air again. After awhile, I was no longer conscious of the projection of either my imagination or the image from within. Instead, the light emanating from the side of the bin was formed by our circuit with the men inside, our potential for connection singing in colour and shining in sound.
In time the men stopped, left their tools behind, and came out to greet us: when the work is done it’s done. We received each other warmly, thanked them for their labour, and went about our business, each of us carrying those vibrations with us.