Open Your Eyes/Shut Your Eyes: Staging Kandinsky's The Yellow Sound at Tate Modern

Geraint D'Arcy, Richard J. Hand

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This essay explores the durational gaze of the spectator and the audience, and the importance of a chronometric rehearsal process in realizing a rarely performed experimental Modernist stage composition. ‘Der Gelbe Klang’ (The Yellow Sound) was Wassily Kandinsky's only published stage composition. Rarely performed but academically scrutinized, the script, such as it is, provides little clue to its performative duration. The Yellow Sound functions as a kinetic painting: layers of moving colours, symbolic figures, shambling yellow giants and bright sounds are mortared together with the extrasensory lacuna of Kandinsky's own synaesthetic perception. In viewing a painting, a spectator has the option to give it a glance or stare at it for hours. In performance, the audience has little temporal control of their visual experience. In the Tate performances this dilemma was approached performatively in process and production. The kinetic painting realized in performance space becomes subservient to the practicalities and logistics of material performance leading to new considerations of time and space which are revealed through rehearsal process and the installation of a performance. This essay explores D'Arcy and Hand's realization of The Yellow Sound from primary design and rehearsal through to the Tate Modern performances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-60
Number of pages5
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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