Steve Roden

Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello at the Chinati Foundation

1. Performance - Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX from September 2007

2. Rehearsal - Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX from September 2007

A performance by Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX from September 2007. Steve and Stephen were inside one of the large artillery sheds, filled with Donald Judd's sculptures and a 6-second reverb. The audience was outside, watching through the glass as the sun set. The live mix was done by Bob Bielecki, with support from engineer Gregory Smelley. The performance was part of the Marfa Sessions, an exhibition organized by Marfa Ballroom, curated by Regine Basha, Rebecca Gates and Lucy Raven.

(Photos by Sari Roden) Soundwalk (2005)

  1. Soundwalk, Part 1 (55'21")

  2. Soundwalk, Part 2 (53'51")

  3. Soundwalk, Part 3 (57'53")

  4. Soundwalk, Part 4 (1 hour)

  5. Soundwalk, Part 5 (52'03")


these recordings document a 5 hour improvised performance from the second annual soundwalk even in long beach california, august 20, 2005. the text below was my initial proposal to the event organizers. although video is mentioned as a possibility, i ended up focusing on sound alone. on the evening of the event, the audience entered the space to find few old rugs covering the dance floor, and a couple of small lamps with low watt bulbs. from my windowless little cardboard shelter hidden in a corner, i had no idea what was going on in the space; and most of the visitors assumed they were listening to a pre-recorded installation. since the piece was playing through speakers located roughly 10 feet above the audience and reflecting off a dome ceiling back down to the listeners below, i would not recommend headphone listening, but giving the sound some distance.

soundwalk proposal

after seeing the dome room, thinking my ears off, i've decided what i would like to do. something i've thought about for awhile - that really suits the opportunity of the soundwalk situation. basically i want to do a durational performance as an installation. i will be in the space somewhat off to the side and probably inside a little tent of some sort so not visible, and will darken the room ("pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"). i would also possibly like to have a scrim hanging around half the circle with some video projected on it (although not clear yet on this and what it would be) the audio would come from 4 medium size speakers on the floor or on pedestals facing up at the dome to reflect off of it. pillows or suggestion of floor sitting for visitors on the dancefloor beneath the dome, with perhaps some lighting there as well.

for some time i have wanted to explore the idea of a performance in an installation context, fueled by two interest avenues :

1. the relationship to audience and the hope that the viewers/listeners would find a way to detach themselves from ME, and simply focus on the sound. to have the experience be non-narrative, no beginning or end in terms of crescendo, and to make the space comfortable for people to sit for awhile, walk away, return, have a coffee, return, etc. to create a sound space or installation where the sound is being made live, but the focus has nothing to do with the performer (i'm thinking of erik satie walking around telling people not to pay attention to the performance while it is happening).

2. endurance. my performances are generally in the 20 - 30 minute range and i have felt for awhile now that i am approaching a comfort zone with this. the idea of being in a public space generating sound live for 5 hours obviously not only obliterates any idea of a comfort zone; but would force a different kind of attention/focus on my own part, and also allow for a lot more slowness in terms of development of a piece; and would attempt to bring ideas of ritual practice into the work. endurance on the part of the performer to remain engaged, as opposed to the usual endurance in terms of what an audience might have to sit through. i will most likely use many prized objects from my horde as well as things gathered from the site and surrounding areas - i would imagine even during the performance, leaving some loops playing live and going outside to make field recordings, etc... so it will have some elements of site specificity...

i would really like for people to feel comfortable staying in the space for short bursts, and thus will try to place myself in a way that doesn't suggest PERFORMANCE.