Voided Cross
(for Michael Heizer)

instrumentation: saxophone, piano (dbl. accordion and synth), electric guitar, percussion [+ aux. pedal, objects, and amplification]
duration: 45'
commissioned by and written for: HYPERCUBE (Erin Rogers, Andrea Lodge, Jay Sorce, Chris Graham)

first performances
March 24, 2019, Now Hear This Festival, Edmonton, AB, CANADA
May 7, 2019, DiMenna Center, New York, NY

Eric Wubbels · Voided Cross (for Michael Heizer), Part III

About the Piece

It takes a very specific audience to like this stupid primordial shit I do... I like runic, Celtic, Druidic, cave painting, ancient, preliterate, from a time back when you were speaking to the lightning god, the ice god, and the cold-rainwater god.” - Michael Heizer


By all accounts complicated and not terribly sympathetic as a person, American sculptor and visual artist Michael Heizer nevertheless has created a body of work that has become a kind of aesthetic touchstone for me. From his early association with the Earth Art movement of the '60's, Heizer has codified a rigorously essentialized style that sets natural phenomena into tense balance with art-world formalisms. From a basic conceptual vocabulary of elemental shapes he generates extraordinarily visceral manifestations: circles, cubes, and cones carved into the ground as gaping pits; massive boulders “levitated” over pedestrian walkways in Los Angeles; or, as in “City,” his main project for the past 40+ years, a complex of concrete mounds and abstract shapes in the Nevada desert on the scale of Chichén Itzá. Heizer's work proposes a new aesthetic type (outside of the pre-modern world, anyway) – a kind of visual art for the reptile brain.

Voided Cross seeks to inhabit a similar aesthetic world in sound, taking “raw” timbral and sonic objects from this particularly versatile electro-acoustic instrumentation and presenting them in blunt, direct, often high-intensity realizations. The piece is heavily amplified throughout, to generate an extreme, quasi-sculptural sonic presence, an ecstatic physicality of sound that saturates the spaces of ear, room, and conscious attention.

The title refers to a shape in ancient heraldic iconography, and in this context has no intended religious implications. For me it's certainly a political piece, though, and the extremity of its expression reflects an attempt to metabolize, transform, and (in some admittedly limited sense) counter the particularly toxic, violent, nihilistic elements of contemporary American social and political life.