Yesterday’s experience of Anywhen stays with me overnight. I can’t help thinking that, ultimately, what Phillippe Parreno is doing is playing with our absolute desire for certainty in our lives. I decide to give it another go. And so, at 11.45 today, I return to the famous Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern. Sombre base non-melodic music greets me. And….. Wow! A helium filled fish drifts by. Children leap in excitement. Adults point their iPhones.
I take my place on the carpet. I sit down among a hundred others. Amazingly, most are under twenty years old.
11.50 The music continues; it increases in volume. The lights go up. The suspended screens perform a little vertical shuffle with squeaky mechanical noises.
Certainty. It is essential for our mental and social well-being. We look for it in our daily routines, in the sun rising, in religious beliefs and in statistics. The seemingly random happenings in Anywhen deprive us of any certainty in our immediate surroundings. I hear a voice behind from a young lady “I guess it’s all about anticipation!” I guess it is.
11.55 The lights go down again. More music. Some people leave. Others arrive; they wonder why everyone is lying on the carpet. I make a new friend.
12.04 The ventriloquist lady (Nina Conti) and the cuttlefish-squid are back on the screen.
12.10 She asks “Who is the master? Who is the slave?” My fellow viewers (experiencers?) are drawn into the hypnotic log-curve forms of the fish.
12.25 I look behind. Everyone has a mesmerised expression. A huge chaotic noise rolls down the hall. A hundred school children arrive in hi-viz vests. This, I assume but without certainty, is not part of Perrano’s “immersive” creation.
12.32 Lights flash. A woman screams “Attention!” Electronic bips and burps. Then silence. Microphone feedback squeal. “Grass!” an android voice shouts. “Rain!”
12.36 The screens descend but only partially. More people drift in expecting the show to begin. I am certain that this is far from certain. I harbour a little smug feeling that I can anticipate their disappointment.
12.38 Right on cue. The lights come on and the screens are hauled back up. Everyone stays. Scratchy recording of folky guitar song.
12.39 Very noisy airplane swoop. Some of us duck in a startled way. Another fish swims by about two metres off the floor. A young girl tries to catch it.
13.01 Only electronic sounds. Nobody seems bored. Some snooze. Some kiss. Some check their snapchats, instagrams and whatsapps.
13.10 Nothing new to report. Feeling hungry. Feeling also rather happy I came back.
13.11 Total silence. Surprising.
13.15 I try to examine my very mixed feelings. I remain intrigued. I am not disappointed. Thanks to the others around me, I am far from bored.
13.20 I conclude that Anywhen is a remarkable experience. It seems the uncertainty that this concept serves up appeals to younger people. Perhaps this is because modern life is so full of … well…. certainties. Who knows for certain? Sorry about yesterday’s blog post, Tate Modern. Bravo, Monsieur Parreno!