The Uninhabitable of L. B.

The Uninhabitable of L. B. (thumbnail), photo Cynthia Troup

Is it strange that a Stoic should protest so vividly? Your eyes, you force them open for a moment. At your feet the pattern of tiles is complicated by shadows; for example your own shadow.

A pavement of coarse mosaic.

Seneca’s writing on the baths at Baiae was mostly well received. the Roman baths or thermae Two hundred words turned the textbook diagrams into a common scene of score-keepers and snack vendors. tu entends Not only designs for the depravity of Empire.

A simple, fan-shaped outline. Shells perhaps? Or fish-scales.

Functional. Sensible, not like the seascapes, birds and flowers of the Romans, in coloured pebbles, terracotta. Glass.

The slightest fragment essential to the grand scheme. …

The script The Uninhabitable of L. B. was first written during an Aphids residency with MUSiCLAB in Brussels, as a result of the month-long collaborative project Scale. The residency took place at the former public bathhouse and swimming complex now called Bains::Connective. Through enquiry into the local history of the building, and into the architectural history of public baths, there emerged a fictional character known as L. B., a newly retired teacher of Classical history.

A text of fragments, some ‘found’, The Uninhabitable of L. B. attempts to render the subtle counterpoint of the mind—ways in which the mind can magnify or miniaturise impressions from past experience, and bring them into strange, deeply personal coincidence. An architectural vocabulary marks gradual shifts in L. B.’s interior space from distress to relief, and to positive expectation. At one level the work is a story of healing, an opportunity to ‘overhear’ the associative logic through which one woman, unnoticed in a public place, acknowledges her existential fragility, retrieves her composure, reclaims her unassuming joi de vivre.

Creative Team

Scale, Aphids in residence with MUSiCLAB:

  • Handmade Instruments Rosemary Joy
  • Writer Cynthia Troup
  • Music David Young
  • Pianoforte Yutaka Oya
  • Guitar Tom Pauwels
  • Percussion Fedor Teunisse
  • Lighting Els Van Riel
  • Sound Recording Ludo Engels
  • MUSiCLAB Coordinator Marie Helene Elleboudt

Chapbook published by Aphids, 2006, as part of the audio CD package Scale.

The Uninhabitable of L. B. as an audiophonic work:

  • Performers Angela Kayser, Deborah Kayser
  • Sound Design & Engineering Jim Atkins
Changeroom door, former Vorst swimming complex: Aphids::MUSiCLAB's Scale (photo Cynthia Troup)
Changeroom door, former Vorst swimming complex: Aphids::MUSiCLAB's Scale (photo Cynthia Troup)

Performance History

2 October: (audiophonic work) Three Triple R FM 102.7 radio broadcast in the program Aural Text
19 May: (audiophonic work) Melbourne, La Mama Theatre
2 November: (first live performance by Caroline Lee during a concert presentation of Scale) Melbourne, South Melbourne Town Hall, part of the New Music Machine presented by Aphids
30 July: (available as a chapbook to read as part of the performance of Scale) Brussels, Bains::Connective

Further Reading

Scale’ program documenting the Aphids::MUSiCLAB residency at Bains::Connective (2004);
read here

‘Aphids: Scale’, in Knowledge + Dialogue + Exchange: Remapping Cultural Globalisms from the South, edited by Nicholas Tsoutas (Sydney: Artspace Visual Arts Centre, 2005), p. 157

de Temmerman, Peter-Paul, ‘Scale vult oud badhuis van Vorst met klein werk’, interview with David Young, De Financieel Ekonomische Tijd, 30 July 2004; read here an unpublished translation by Annelies Willinck, 2005

Troup, Cynthia, editor and Introduction, Sonorities of Site: Aphids, Architecture and New Music 1998–2010, designed by Paul Ducco and Jacob Thompson (Melbourne: Aphids, 2012), passim