Sound of Silence

As that wounded ballerina -- our nation's struggling economy -- continues to flail across the stage, and President Bush maintains his relentless pursuit of Osama bin Laden, and just when you thought it was safe to open your mail again, Lance Gharavi wants to remind us of the horrific tragedy that brought us -- with a resounding thud -- here.

His creation, Sound Zero, is a technology-based, interactive performance/installation that solemnly recalls the chaos created by the destruction and collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. As viewers enter the installation, their movement will trigger a computer to play digital recordings of the actual emergency workers following the fall of the Twin Towers. Meanwhile, Gharavi, a faculty member in the Herberger Department of Theatre, will perform.

"It's really not a performance in the theatrical sense," he says. "It doesn't have a beginning or an end."

For Gharavi's role in the installation, he kneels before a pile of rubble, silent and motionless. "It's a kind of meditative state," he says. "To me it represents a kind of mourner. But also, a person who waits, perhaps with hope that someone will be found, that someone is alive, in the rubble."

In creating Sound Zero, Gharavi also contemplated the experience of the rescue worker in excavating those encased in that great mausoleum once known as the World Trade Center.

"I thought of their desperate hope as they searched and they dug, looking for signs of life," he says, "their desperate hope that they would find someone, as well as their great grief in knowing that chances of finding anyone alive were slim."

Sponsored by ASU's Institute for Studies in the Arts (ISA), Sound Zero is part of an ongoing series relating to September 11 and its aftermath. According to Gharavi, the series is an opportunity for artists to respond to the tragedy and encourage others -- students, faculty and people from the community -- to respond as well. "In some ways," he says, "creating works that were artistic responses to the event was, on a personal level, my way of coping with my very confused and mixed emotions about the events."

With Sound Zero, Gharavi hopes to create an experience that not only mirrors the calamity of September 11, but gives participants insight into how the events developed. "It unfolded in response to the actions of individuals that were observed by others who in turn were being observed," he says.

"There is no story, no beginning or end beyond what the viewers or witnesses create themselves," says Gharavi. "Much like the actual aftermath of 9-11, Sound Zero unfolds in response to the activities of the witnesses."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Meghan Gaynor