Suppose we live simultaneously in multiple dimensions, the way some atoms can be in two places at once.
What would that mean for our perceptions and our bodies? Would our experiences be echoes of something happening somewhere else? Would reality itself be just a light show that melts away when we try to grasp it?
These questions, which have vexed quantum physicists for decades, animate this week’s kickoff production in Walker Art Center’s 27th annual Out There series of experimental works. “Youarenowhere,” the title of Andrew Schneider’s heady, disruptive one-hour production that opened Wednesday seems declarative enough — like the locator spot on a map. But in this age of irony, the meaning is ambiguous. Are you here now? Or nowhere?
Far from offering reassurance about one’s place and direction in the world, this show of loud noises and cutting lights leaves you with a sense of giddy dislocation. The show also has an inventive ending that is as thrilling and surprising.
Schneider performs in a space that is bare, save for an empty picture frame suspended from the ceiling. When he puts his face into it, it buzzes, lights up and blacks out. That portal is charged space, a metaphor for the whole stage itself.
The action begins in darkness and fog. When the lights come up, briefly, we see Schneider, bare-chested with microphone packs on his arms. He looks like a Marine recruit about to have his blood pressure taken. The lights go out again, and when they come back up, he’s on a different part of the stage, in another pose. We get snapshots of him. Our imaginations fill in the movements.
In familiar and conspiratorial tones, Schneider delivers confessional snippets about his life. His words are often interrupted by a scratchy, echoey soundscape — like dub music without the dub. This sense of incompletion, which permeates the show, speaks to a larger yearning. “Youarenowhere” is not interested in the prosaic stuff of life — aside from how the ordinary may be cosmic.
It’s difficult to discuss Schneider’s show without revealing its secrets, but it plays with time as well as space. There’s a “bless you” that anticipates a sneeze. Schneider speaks forward and backward, his words bent as they come at us. It sounds like a recording, spun in reverse, as he tries to reveal human vicissitudes as cosmic phenomena.