Video still of hands playing a cello on the left and hands playing a viola on the right, on a black background.

Joe Diebes | String Quartet No. 2

Four music stands in the dark, two facing the camera and two facing away, each lit from above.January 14-March 29, 2005

New York composer Joe Diebes creates a phantom string quartet with a series of short composed passages, individually performed and recorded by member of Seattle’s St. Helen’s String Quartet.

On entering String Quartet No. 2 the audience encounters a phantom ensemble. In the four corners of the room are speakers playing back musical gestures from each of four string players. The audience is invited to listen to the piece from a variety of different spatial/sonic perspectives and to stay as long as they wish, as the installation continues to generate itself without repeating. The original sampling parts for the instruments are on music stands in front of each speaker, allowing the audience to perceive the non-linear approach to the composition, as well as to contemplate the displacement and absence that is increasingly part of our technologically mediated culture.

“My goal in this piece, as with many of my pieces, was to invoke a model of a truly non-hierarchical and multi-valent community in all its complexity.”


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Joe Diebes

Joe Diebes (b. 1972) creates works that converge around the categories of concert music, installations, and conceptual art. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 1995, where he studied…