We are drowning in words coming at us relentlessly, rapidly and repeatedly. There are words that don’t stop and pack a punch – like hate, love, passion, fear. The micro poetry distilled in the drops of the work of Julius Popp’s installation work bit.fall is mesmerizing – I am literally hanging on every word. I am watching the words fall – they always fall. Falling away, dissolving in the earth with a steady, rhythmic beat the water cycle and the information cycle end together on the floor. The drops of water start dissolving long before they reach the ground, losing form joining with other elements to complete their journey disembodied from how they began.
Bit.fall is a meditation for our time – a machine holding the mirror up to human nature, revealing meaning via a logarithm making meaning from our collective on line endeavours and in the installation at MONA they cascade between a rock and a hard place. The wall behind the installation formed by bedrock blasted from deep underground and the polished hard place below. Regardless of whose gaze or even if there is no gaze, the fall continues one word at a time. In my beloved improvisation games chest, there is the game ‘one word at a time’ where each person builds on the word of the person before to form a story, a micro effort to find a shared thread of a story, and in the space creating the threshold between one voice and the next, there is a tiny silence where the thread is held by all before the next word bead is added. In the bit.fall the onlookers were doing something similar, holding their breaths with anticipation about what word might come next.
The dance between silence and sound is infinite. When the words keep coming and don’t stop it is hard to catch our breath, let alone the meaning and reflecting. John O’Donohue, the great Irish philosopher, poet and mystic, says if we don’t find these spaces of intimacy and silence we condemn ourselves to exile. Constant talk, faster, louder, where there are no silences in between to hang with the word in virtual suspended animation, is our ticket to separation – we are writing our own deportation orders.
I promise to find one word at a time to lead into more intimacy. Words free of fear, bringing empathy and comfort, words accumulated from a logarithm of compassion, elemental words, words worthy of having a space for silence before and after they are formed.