Wednesday, a handicap taxi with a Richard Nixon hood ornament came to pick me up outside the Gershwin Theater parking lot. I’d come to claim my free ride to the Armory from artist Daniel J Wilson, where he’s displaying his sound piece— conversations he’s recorded from his passengers, collaged by his composer/musician sister Catherine Wilson.
We shot the shit for a little while and circled the block. Wilson, a thirty-something Canadian native, told me about cab school ("everybody hates questions"), driving the 5-5 shift, how his fluent English earned him the nickname "American Boy" over at the dispatch. "People were really nice to me in the garage in general, I think they thought there was something wrong with me," he joked.
The audio mimics a day in the life, starting out with him picking up the cab, progressing from conversations about business, to friends, to relationships, to bars. When we started around eleven minutes in, the carefree conversations sounded as though people were going home. A surfer talking about finding the rhythm of the waves feeds into nonsensical performance art talk, which becomes a woman explaining time to her baby. "And we did have mommy time, and daddy had Max time,” she explains in a sugary baby voice. “And Max had mommy time, when max and mommy went to the doctor, and then we had special daddy and mommy time."
The collage gives you the feeling of drifting off the sleep, touching lightly on people's hopes and anxieties but never sticking with their world long enough to get sucked in. "My world is from Jack-son-ville, Florida," says a tipsy college-age girl. "What's the difference from Jacksonville?"
"It's Florida," her bro friend replies. "Florida, white trash, in a southern area." She giggles.
The tone picks up speed when people talk about relationships. "What frustrated me, she said to me all the time, the entire thing, I sat there and took it, but she was like you're just using me for sex!" a guy tells his friend. "Get the fuck outta here!" His friend laughs. Then a woman pops in: "that's the awesome part about your career as a woman, you can choose what kind of man you want."
And just when it was getting juicy, we were at the Armory. I wanted to stay longer, but, as Daniel had observed earlier, "people only show you bits and pieces, anyway."
To get a ride today or Saturday, look for the cab with the Richard Nixon hood ornament outside Scope, Volta, the Armory, the ADAA Art Show, Fountain Art Fair, Independent, Moving Image, and SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Or make an appointment with Daniel at info_at_danieljwilson.com.