[Shortly after 9/11/2001]
In an attempt to visualize and dissipate the angst of the US american
psyche in the wake of tragic communal loss after the events of '9/11',
a mental pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock's surrealistic cinematic 'dream'
sequences informs conductor's visual style - a kind of Freudian
Modernism - but so too does Disneyesque melodrama. These off-key
alienation devices are intended to allow an audience critical
distance from the news-media's obscene coupling of real
tragic imagery with overplayed sentiment and opportunistic commercialism
that characterizes coverage of 9/11 - conductor may then
operate as intended, sparking synapses into fresh thought around the
subjects of hubris, trauma, revenge and redemption.
conductor relies heavily on the notion and use of 'the
helicopter shot' - a device often used in clumsy attempts to rescue
bad cinema. In this scenario though, the drone view is replaced with the
point-of-view of a 'lost soul', caught forever in the purgatory
of a premonitory dream on the eve of September 11, 2001. No martyr or hero,
this believer is an asylum-seeker, a shell-shocked refugee from a moribund Faith,
frenziedly and repeatedly navigating the Jacob's Ladder of the World
Trade Center towers in increasingly more desperate and futile attempts to
ascend to Heaven's Gate prior to Armageddon,
'the war at the end of the world' ...and God.
The late composer Karl-Heinz Stockhausen's controversial
profundity is referenced in conductor. To formal and critical
ends it uses a short passage from his Helikopter-Streichquartett in which "the four members of a string
quartet perform in four helicopters flying independent flight paths over
the countryside near the concert hall. The sounds they play are mixed together
with the sounds of the helicopters and played through speakers to the audience
in the hall". Just days after 9/11, during a media event for his opera Licht ['Light'],
Stockhausen caused outrage by claiming that 9/11 was [Lucifer's] "greatest work of art".