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performance

David Levine’s WOW

David Levine, WOW (work in progress). Performance view, BRIC House, Brooklyn, NY, January 24, 2014. Fab Morvan (Randall Smith) and Rob Pilatus (Joey Kipp). Photo: Ryan Muir.

“WHEN YOU INVENT THE PLANE, you also invent the plane crash,” Paul Virilio once observed. Every technology carries the seed of its inevitable failure and, as Virilio’s aphorism also suggests, there might be collateral damage when the flameout occurs. And so we can imagine a line running from the beginning of recorded sound—the initial, scratchy separation of voice from body—down to one fateful live MTV broadcast on July 21, 1989. It was then that the CD to which Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were lip-synching skipped, exposing Milli Vanilli, the ridiculously ubiquitous pop duo, as just a couple of dancers in Hypercolor bike shorts. Edison, it turned out, had given us not only the electric lightbulb and the phonograph record, but the eventual revelation of the latter’s mendacity under the harsh glare of the former. The spectacle choked, spectacularly. In late 1990, after a

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