Whenever I encounter Richard T. Walker's video work I invariably sit in front of it for several loops, so how appropriate that he literally looped himself for his performance The Speed and Eagerness of Meaning (Longer Longing Version) at SFMOMA last week. This was the last in the Stage Presence performance series that would take place in the fourth floor gallery (Rashaad Newsome's Shade Compositions will be performed in the atrium next month), and for it Walker stood with his back to us and became the live third channel of his video piece.
As you try to assemble what is now before you, you mourn a little for what you have lost, for you could never again acquire the not knowing that so beautifully placed you in the center of it all.
As he addressed a series of wild landscapes, first through a recording and then with spoken word and finally through song, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. He could have been talking about love, or death, or an epiphany that shifts your perception. The frisson, no matter what it was about, was undeniable.
He occasionally experiences feelings that are associative to the things in front of him but they exist between and beyond emotions, so translation is impossible.
Walker repeated the piece in its entirety four more times, a study in the subtle differences that occur during live performance. And it only gained power with repetition. As I left the gallery I was handed a letter labeled "to whom it may concern". I purposefully saved it and am only reading it for the first time right now as I write this. I will not summarize its contents, but I'll leave you with the same benediction that Walker does:
I wish you well, and that your relationship with nature remains as it is.