La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela at the Dream House

12. The Experience of the Audience

FRANK J. OTERI: Well, it raises a question: Can you have this spiritual, transcendent experience? There are so many pieces of the Western Classical canon, you think of the Mahler symphonies or the Bruckner symphonies, that are these vast spiritual journeys and, you know, I as a listener get more from them sitting on my floor at home listening to a recording than I ever have had in concert hall because of that constriction.

LA MONTE YOUNG: It’s the fact that the chairs are fixed… It’s like being on an airplane. You know, you can’t move, you start getting claustrophobic, you’re afraid you’re going to disturb your neighborit’s a very restrictive situation. It’s not that a chair is bad, I mean, a chair is O.K. It’s the idea of being so crowded and together and not having enough freedom. That’s why a large Dream House is better than a small Dream House. You have more room for people to have their own space.

FRANK J. OTERI: Except that Theatre of Eternal Music Big Band concert that I remember as being one of the most wonderful nights of my life started out being one of the most uncomfortable nights of my life.

MARIAN ZAZEELA: Yeah.

LA MONTE YOUNG: Mmhmm.

FRANK J. OTERI: Because it was a very small space, but something happened in the listening experience.

MARIAN ZAZEELA: It was a big space, but it was crowded.

FRANK J. OTERI: There were tons of people there.

MARIAN ZAZEELA: Yeah, we had a lot of people there.

FRANK J. OTERI: And for the first hour I was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t get past it, but something happened with the music that took me somewhere else, which makes me think that it’s possible, it’s possible if a performance is that great and the music is that great, no matter how constricted you are, if there is a glorious performance, you can even get it on an airplane. (Well, the acoustics are terrible on an airplane, it’s a bad metaphor, I really loved that metaphor, but…) So, that said, it could happen that you leave your body even if your body is completely trapped…

LA MONTE YOUNG: Those who want to make the effort, will make it. They will achieve it, but there is still something to be said about giving people the experience. But something I want to say is space—the question of space and time are still key factors. And all of this being said, you know, how does one get a space to work with and how does one get a larger space to work with? It’s very difficult you know, when you go to a museum and say, I need your biggest gallery or I need a gallery for three months. You know, they’re accustomed to giving it maybe for three weeks or a week and at a concert hall they’re accustomed to giving it for one night with a sound check in the afternoon, so, space and time are enormously important commodities.

MARIAN ZAZEELA: We had an installation at the Metropolitan Museum back in 1971 and they gave us space for about two and a half weeks. We presented a Dream House; it was in a wing that was scheduled to be renovated and transformed into something else, so there was an intervening period in which they were able to give it to us. So, you know, those are the kinds of things that come up in life. You just have to say, well you’re grateful for that chance.