The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen

Description (in English): 

Exploring connections between surveillance and interference in the lives of artists, "The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen" is a hyperlibretto where the experience of a wedding celebration is created with words, graphic icons, and glockenspiel intermezzi. 

Artist Statement

"The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen" is informed by a strategy of following signs and signifiers that point to ancient systems of control of people's lives. It is a device used by Dan Brown in Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, although actually it was through the performance artist's strategy of looking at hypertextual connections in my own eventful life that "Celebration" took on this aspect. 

In the creation of this work—that looks at systems of surveillance and interference in the lives of artists—a metaphoric meaning is set forth that can be experienced in the same light as newly discovered maps and artifacts that lead us on a trail to explore the hidden narratives of this country's history, such as the map of Viking exploration of the Americas in the Yale Library or the image of a Templar Knight on a rock ledge in Massachusetts. Regardless of the complete accuracy of such artifacts, (and of this narrative) their meaning is "look here, there is some aspect of our history that should be re-examined." 

The interface for "The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen" is based on the interface I developed for "A Party in Silver Beach," a work that situates the reader at a party where visual images of the guests lead to their words. Celebration also utilizes elements of Opera libretto. Thus, the visually-cued scenes (the recitative) are interspersed with text arias and ariosos that contain sustained narrative content and are introduced with graphic and/or audio intermezzi. 

In the magic realism tradition of Mozart and Emanuel Schikaneder's "The Magic Flute," where music brings safety in harrowing times; in the tradition of Shakespearean identity subterfuge, or of Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte's "Marriage of Figaro," "The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen" is a hyperfiction libretto where the unmasking of spies and perpetrators is woven into a diffuse wedding celebration. 

The reader moves through the story like a guest at a party—speaking to some people, overhearing the conversations of others. He or she may enjoy the ambiance of a party to celebrate the marriage of writer Gwen and video artist Gunter; and/or may listen to painter Dorothy Abrona McCrae relate the story of the search for the fate of Virginia Dare, the first child born in the Roanoke Colony; and/or may listen to former intelligence agent Uncle Roger reveal the disturbing extent of brain surveillance and life interference technologies. 

If the story at times seems difficult for a wedding celebration, it should be remembered that many of the characters are victims of war game and intelligence agency interference in their lives. They know this, but they do not want such interference to mean that their happiness, the joy of living, the enjoyment of their own wedding has been taken.

(Source: 2008 ELO Media Arts show)

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Scott Rettberg