Theater archives

Analog.Ue: What Happens When Our Mental Equipment Finally Breaks Down


Memory and tape recording are both fallible media. We forget; tape degrades. Analog.Ue, Daniel Kitson’s new installation-performance now playing at St. Ann’s Warehouse, pits the reels’ promise of perfect recall against the inescapable fact of decay, reminding us how much experience will be lost when our own mental equipment finally breaks down.

Kitson, usually a monologist, doesn’t speak a word here — not in the present tense, anyway. Instead, he recorded his story ahead of time and, in performance, each passage of the looping narrative emanates from a different vintage analog apparatus: reel-to-reels, old-school tape decks, venerable stereos. Matching content to form, the piece recounts how a recording of one old man’s memories, committed to tape on a whim, accidentally becomes the soundtrack to a young woman’s obsessions.

Embodying memory’s selective recall, Kitson carefully carries each device to its appointed place and lovingly sets it up. (By the end, the stage is a tangled jumble of cables and outmoded gear.) Sometimes the machines catch or hesitate before playing, and in those intervals, we fear that segments of the story could be lost to mechanical failure — which is Kitson’s intention. Consciousness exists at the fragile nexus between recollection and sensation, recording and playback: constantly revised, always on the brink of erasure.