What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth

By Jack Callahan & Jeff Witscher


Jeff Witscher & Jack Callahan’s What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth is a new multi-channel work examining the banality of the human drama in the 21st century. Taking the familiar Q&A format as its basic form, the piece functions as an expanded generative interview between multiple speakers — both human and technological — as an unhinged, overlapping narrative of contemporary life. Begun in 2017 as an idea, WHOESOE consists of a series of prompts given to selection of interviewees (Madalyn Merkey, Asha Sheshadri, Colleen O’Connor, Nihal Ramchandani, Daren Ho, and Josh Haringa) whose responses are recorded. The piece is organized from this material with each staging being one of many possible realizations. An experiment in the modularity of common drama, the piece shares sensibilities with A.A. meetings, group therapy sessions, formalist and Fluxus generative poetry experiments, or Robert Ashley’s television operas — all operations that express tension between inner monologue and group communication. Although both Witscher and Callahan are known for their discrete compositions and far-ranging work under various monikers, recently they have been forwarding primary descriptors such as “Music Art” and “Sound Music” as formal headings that re-assert the simplicity of their own respective practices. What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth is an intersection of these individual approaches — a savage showcase of both narrative and music’s destinies to “go nowhere but here.”

— Nick James Scavo