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Ben Vida, Speech Act (Video), 2016, video, color, sound, 11 minutes 50 seconds.

Ben Vida

Lisa Cooley

Ben Vida, Speech Act (Video), 2016, video, color, sound, 11 minutes 50 seconds.

Midway through Beckett’s Endgame, the blind Hamm, agitated, asks his son/servant Clov, “What’s happening? What’s happening?” Clov responds, cagily, “Something is taking its course.” Later, Hamm attempts to identify this unspecified something, but his efforts—“We’re not beginning to . . . to . . . mean something?”—are unsuccessful, dismissed by Clov with a laugh.

The spirit of Endgame is alive and well in composer Ben Vida’s “Speech Acts,” 2016–, a series of works that chart the ways in which sound and meaning work together or permeate each other, and the ways that they approach each other and then swerve. In large, neatly handwritten blocks of text, understood to be scripts for a sound work and looking a great deal like cue cards, the words are punctuated by bracketed stage directions, interrupted by ellipses and dashes, urged forward by arrows. Reading these disconnected

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