Ulysses in the Subway (Paul Kaiser, Marc Downie, Flo Jacobs, Ken Jacobs, 2017)
The idea here is to awaken our hearing to the sounds around us by providing a graphic representation of their complexity, an effect enhanced by the 3-D which allows us to dive into the sound-images. Often, they resembled the perspective of looking upon miles of city lights from high on a hill. The problem is that the sounds themselves weren't recontextualized and the sound-images didn't do enough to transform that deadening "Stand clear of the closing door please" announcement. For millions of New Yorkers every day, this is capitalism's repetition compulsion at its most pummeling and Ulysses didn't deliver it from us. And soon, everything about the project felt just as oppressive as those eternal announcements, from the fact that the journey never wanders above 42nd Street to the leisure implied in Jacobs' stopping to listen to an endless steel drum performance to the hoary narrative of the male wanderer and the female waiting at home.
Ok so it wasn't for me. But I'll tell you who it was for. At the Q&A afterward at MOMA, an old man asked where he could hear these sounds. Clearly, the man hadn't been underground in some time, if ever. So come with me and watch the Show Time boys do their thang. Marvel at the purple explosion all over the walls and pillars in the Union Square station of black man named Prince at various points in his history. Keep your eyes open for the light orgy just before you reach the 125th Street station. Oh you've never up this far before?