This is a recording of the dance portion of the performance. The original piece was composed and performed in quad.
The choreography was meant to coincide with the "physical" placement and motion of the sounds.
In the mid 70s, performance art was yet to be accepted as a valid
art form. Critics still had to set themselves up to the "job"
of defining what was and what was not "performance
art..." to categorizing and separating it away from the
other mediums...to dictating what elements a piece had to incorporate
so that it was performance art and not theater...or dance...bla, bla, bla.
Instead, they wrote about how they experienced the pieces and they
made judgments that had to do with the substance of the pieces and not
perfunctory academics. There were no rules (that anyone was taking seriously)
and it was all wide open. To me, this is the most fertile time for any
medium. Once something starts getting officially defined, the
sense of prolific growth, discovery and invention decrease proportionally.
electronic music had a sound all it's own, and was
not expected to emulate "real" instruments. The Moog
synthesizer was the instrument, and quad sound could immerse an audience
in an auditory environment more than ever before.
"Contemplation Piece," I was trying to make the
Chinese Yin Yang symbol of unity and duality, a four dimensional
experience. Using movement, circling sound, lighting, costuming,
and audience involvement, the intent was to immerse the audience
in this very abstract experience, and somehow come away with the
essence of the symbol. My brother, Daniel was my dance partner,
my mother, Corazon made the costumes, and electronic music composer,
Ed Zaida and I composed the electronic music and he performed it live during the performance.
ART EXAMINER, (March 1977)
ARTURO AND DANIEL CUBACUB
(Gallery 1134, Jan. 21, 1977)
Generally performances possess so little substance that they substitute
audience intimidation for audience appeal. The aggressive monotony,
repetitiveness, and unnecessary length of many pieces put viewers
on the defensive. Feeling that anything that long and that
boring must be intentionally so, the audience is duped into
an excruciatingly strained intellectual groping in search of the
artist's obscure rationale.
The Cubacubs' performance was not of this type. It lasts in the
mind and emotions precisely because of its discreet duration and
At 7:30 sharp, the audience was confined around a 16' by 16' rectangle
taped on the floor, the lights went out, the rectangle glowed
fluorescent blue, the audience sighed, and the electronic music
began. Two well-paced and inventive compositions by Ed Zajda created
a mood for the ensuing action somewhere between science fiction
At the music's conclusion the sound of breathing resonantly saturated
the performance area and the artist's voice requested the audience
to syncopate their breathing with what they were hearing. His
other entreaties were to breathe deeply, slow down your pulse
rate and relax into a meditatively receptive state. These participatory
procedures, prerequisites for eliciting the, kind of rapt individual
attentiveness his brief performance would require were also meant
to enhance the feeling of collective awareness and response.
The piece began as two male figures, clad in almost identical
black and white costumes moved toward center stage. Each performer
was two-faced, one being his own, and the other a moronic, malevolent
mask over the back of his head. Thus each performer was endowed
with a thuggish Siamese twin on his flip side. These two (four)
flickering figures interacted in a ritualized combative dance
indebted to oriental martial arts.
The rapidity of the strobe-light flashing incessantly plunged
them in and out of darkness. This blackness also obliterated the
logical movements in their "dance" sequences. Both performers
seemed to glide, float, or be tossed from place, to space, to
place. Attention was riveted to their actions by the mordant yet
dazzling effects of the visual elements and also by the apprehension
that the appearing, disappearing, reappearing figures might be
completely annihilated by the obliterating "black holes"
between the flashes.
The theme of duplicity, of good versus evil, or good behind evil,
or evil behind good was reiterated by each of the components of
this evocative and compelling performance.