Theme Tonight…, 2018
Mixed media wall installation, with eight sound channels
Soundtrack: Samuel Beckett's radio play, Words and Music (1961)
Reproduced in Hebrew by Guy Goldstein, 31:07 min

This work is an independent production created by Guy Goldstein after Samuel Beckett's radio play Words and Music, written, recorded and broadcast in 1961. The play's plot takes place in an unknown time and place, and the only space described at all is an abstract-generic tower.

The character Croak, a quarrelsome tyrant, motivates the other two characters, Joe-Words and Bob-Music, who do not get along with each other, and are presented as his servants or slaves. Words guides the plot via expressions on themes raised by Croak, such as "love" and "age", verbalizing the tension between the word's semantic meaning and its physical-phonetic existence. Bob-Music likewise operates literally, unlike the manner of music in the theater: rather than a background, the music plays a role and has something to say. Together, Words and Music unfold the process of song making. Beckett exemplifies the hostility between Words and Music in that when one of them begins to talk or make music, the other interrupts him. The play as a whole represents a violent struggle between the "what" and the "how" of the radiophonic medium. At its conclusion, Words and Music are left alone, whether to reconcile or go their separate ways and remain "how" without "what".

Goldstein introduces questions about interruption and interference with the progression of the plot. The background screen for the play is constructed as an acoustic wall in theaters, consisting of boards which bear a record of the noise frequencies. Initially, he creates the drawings with graphite pencils attached to a drill, outlining a drawn vibration on paper. In the next phase he lays strips of adhesive tape on the drawings, which "absorb" the data therefrom, and these strips are attached to the boards. A "spectral waterfall" or a spectrogram is thus created—a graphic representation of sonic frequencies. The graphic-visual representation of the sound in fact parallels the recording on a magnetic tape recorder, as an image of mediumal translation or the arrangement and editing of source materials in an independent context.

The audience is seated facing the acoustic wall in an auditory space reminiscent of a theatrical arena, listening to the play emanating from the drawn boards. The wall-facing audience alludes to the passive act of listening to radio plays in the past, while the noise recordings serve as a ground for the dispersion rather than absorption of sound, as required of an acoustic wall. The occurrence, which was restricted to the sonic space and the limited means of a radio play (words, music, effects, silences), emanates from the live wall installation created by visual means, involving deviant elements such as staging directions, drawn music or the music of drawing, theatrical staging, and the silent presence of such objects as a male shaving machine and a female hair dryer.



Sound: