Previous event: ← The MassDress
Next event: Stories

Trace for Orchestra & The Oraculum or Book of Fate

by Robert Watts

Trace for Orchestra


A seventeen-piece high school orchestra in uniform is lined up on the stage of the Roskilde Hall. Robert Watts enters the stage as conductor, raises his arms and the orchestra gets ready to play. The light is dimmed and eventually extinguished altogether. On a signal from Watts the members of the orchestra set fire to their scores. The scene is briefly lit up by the flames. The duration of the performance equals the time it takes for the scores to burn out, whereupon the room returns to darkness. The light is turned on again; the orchestra bows to the audience and the performance is over. 


The Oraculum or Book of Fate

Inside Roskilde Hall, Robert Watts had a fortune teller’s tent erected. Hannah Higgins assisted him as a fortune teller. An Apple computer predicted the destinies of members of the audience using the questions below. However, regardless of the supplied information, the destiny would always be the same.

The Oraculum, or Book of Fate.

The Oraculum which follows is a most amusing game. Some people have regarded it as more than just a pastime. The great Napoleon constantly consulted it. It is, of course, given here merely as a diversion. The Oraculum is gifted with every requisite variety of response to the following questions:

1. Will my wish come true?
2. Will I have success in my undertakings?
3. Will I win or lose my case?
4. Will I have to live in foreign parts?
5. Will the stranger return?
6. Will I recover my property?
7. Will my friend be true?
8. Will I have to travel?
9. Does this person love and respect me?
10. Will the marriage be prosperous?
11. What sort of wife, or husband, will I have?
12. Will she have a son or daughter?
13. Will the patient recover?
14. Will the prisoner be released?
15. Will I be lucky or unlucky?
16. What does my dream signify?

Hannah Higgins also performed one of Jackson Mac Low’s Gathas on a guitar, translating all of the letters of the alphabet that appeared in the poem into individual notes numerically. Afterwards, Robert Watts came up and said “I didn’t think I’d like it, but I did”.