The original performances of Jacqueline Humbert and David Rosenboom’s Daytime Viewing between 1979 and 1981 anticipate both the most bizarre and the most academic strains of contemporary independent music. They’re precursors, on the one hand, to the theatrical synth-orgy LSD trip you’d catch at the end of a long bill at a DIY gallery and instantly come to worship (see: Nautical Almanac, Quintron & Miss Pussycat). But the duo also boasts major credentials in pioneering electronic music and minimalist ensembles: Rosenboom plays on the original recording of In C and performed with La Monte Young’s Theatre of Eternal Music; Humbert collaborated for over 15 years with Robert Ashley, whose TV opera Perfect Lives parallels Daytime Viewing’s format and themes.
If I were there to witness the duo’s computer-created visual accompaniments flitting alongside a live fashion show of Humbert’s costumes while she intones poetry and Rosenboom conjures melodic cascades out of a Buchla Touché computer-assisted synth prototype, I would’ve been so down. Like Humbert’s character, I’d probably leave my body and “watch [my] life as [I] would a story, absorbing the view.” Their mythology would’ve become my mythology. But… this all took place over 10 years before I was born. I thank Unseen Worlds — who released 2012’s incredible Laurie Spiegel reissue, among other gems — for reviving Daytime Viewing from a private cassette release to an LP and CD edition. I’ve sunk into the liner notes and the text of Humbert’s allegorical monologue that paints the television as a conflicted caretaker/lover, and made probably too many connections between her free-associations and today’s multimedia-saturated culture. With the LP spinning next to me, I worry I might “beg[i]n to refuse to leave the Daytime Viewing,” at least for a while. Cool.