Series Imposture was inspired by the “Rosenhan experiment,” a famous experiment done to test the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. It was conducted by the psychologist David Rosenhan and published by the Science journal in 1973 under the title “On being sane in insane places.” The study involved the use of healthy associates or "pseudo-patients" who faked auditory hallucinations in an attempt to gain admission to different psychiatric hospitals across the United States. Bizarrely enough, all pseudo-patients were admitted and diagnosed with mild-to-serious psychiatric disorders. After admission, the pseudo-patients attempted to make a public “show” of their sanity, yet they were unable to wholly convince their caretakers of this reality. All were forced to admit to having a mental illness and agree to ingest antipsychotic drugs as a condition of their release. The average time that the patients spent in the hospital was 19 days, one patient remained for nearly two months. All of the patients but one were diagnosed with schizophrenia "in remission" before their release.
It was my interest with Series Imposture to construct such a bizarre scenario. Where sensible individuals masquerade as deranged within a repressive system on the fringe of absolute vacuity. I was interested in obfuscating the more traditional “chamber music” roles implied by the instrumentation. Throughout the piece, the voice emulates the timbral qualities of the other instruments. With its gestures contained within the rigid performance windows offered by the other instrumental performers, the voice adopts a mask which permits it to “fall in line” with the performance tendencies of the other players. As the piece develops, a growing discomfort emerges in the voice. Rosenhan’s article depicts an atmosphere of depersonalization and powerlessness, so when the voice stands to contend its treatment it falls victim to its own imposture and is mocked by the instrumentalists.
Series Imposture (2013) : voice, flute, clarinet, and percussion
for the TAK ensemble (Charlotte Mundy, Laura Cocks, Liam Kinson and Ellery Trafford)