Pay and Display
Pay and Display is a film of a performance, for which there was no audience, staged in the multistory Pershore Street car park in Birmingham, a brutalist building, arguably one of the most inhospitable environments for a musical performance. Dilapidated and empty, the ghostly presence of the car park comes to life. Beer composed the piece to resonate with this architecture, finding the frequencies that would bring the building to life, acting as a sound box and in effect another voice. Thus the inherent harmonies of the architecture are revealed. The building becomes almost a mythical figure constantly harrying the public working itself into a frenzy of demands for money. The quasi-religious nature of the music suggests the primacy of mammon in our society, climaxing on the word Sunday, which is the day of worship in the Christian week. The text of the piece is based on the signs that are scattered insistently around the car park: ‘Have you paid and displayed except on Sunday’. There is thus a consonance between the vocal score, written in six parts, and the environment. His choice of building was in line with the project as a whole, which seeks to animate spaces that are generally forgotten, hidden or unremarked but which play an essential social role. The film is played on two large-scale screens with high quality sound, creating an intense immersive experience.