by Steven Pisano
If you could videotape and then three-dimensionally play back for an audience one of your recent dreams, it might look like Bora Yoon’s Sunken Cathedral, presented at La Mama last week as part of the ongoing Prototype Festival.
Yoon is fascinated with the subconscious, the hidden side of us that lurks below our everyday awareness yet nonetheless influences who we are in our waking lives. In a voiceover early in the show, Yoon says: “The architecture of the mind is an infinite space.”
Deliberately sharing the same title as a prelude by Claude Debussy (“La cathédrale engloutie”), Sunken Cathedral is not an opera, nor a concert, nor a work of musical theater. It does feature, among other things, a violin, Tibetan bowls, empty tin cans, a metronome (from Yoon’s childhood, we are told), and hand clapping. There is also Yoon’s marvelous ethereal singing, which is worth the price of admission alone.
Accompanying the music were gorgeous surrealist projections featuring the kinetic sculptures of South Korean artist U-Ram Choe. There was also dancing and drumming by Vong Pak, dressed in a Korean folk costume, a long ribbon snaking from the top of his hat (known as a sangmo).
Yoon has described herself as a “sound artist,” and during a Q&A after the Saturday matinee performance, director Glynis Rigsby spoke of how the show was put together over the last several years more like a painting than anything else, arranging colors and shapes in sound.