The Park – Privacy Rules

EPFC | January 18th, 2017

guest curator: Brian C. Short


The Park – Privacy Rules is the first part of Robert Ashley’s four-part opera for television, Perfect Lives. First broadcast in 1983, its vintage shows in the chunky video compositing, effects, et al. Neither can I speak well for its unfortunate costuming choices, or even much of the music. I think the real power of this work lies in the text and Ashley’s delivery of it, and given that context, there is a certain consistent sensibility to the presentation, in that it sustains a vivid sense of the hypnagogic, and that is hauntingly effective. The soundtrack to this opera provided near-constant background to work I was doing in 1996, and when colleagues heard what I was listening to, they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. but I wanted nothing more than to find my own voice in it. Instead, I found that Ashley’s voice had subsumed me, was always there – not in the background anymore, but foregrounded, an orthogonal commentary to everything I thought, said, did… and it took years for that to stop happening. I’m not exactly sure it has stopped happening. I do love that words are simply plastered with seeming arbitrariness over image.