A recorded electric guitar begins painting a self portrait. Eight seconds later a statement spoken by a calm British male unites with the guitarwork, “It is impossible to achieve the aim without suffering.”
Thus begins the title track of Exposure, Robert Fripp’s first solo album. There is much to be said about Mr. Fripp’s previous recordings, especially those made with King Crimson, the band he started in 1968. The band’s experiences were very wide ranging, including “success”, but Mr. Fripp dissolved KC in 1974. After three years the recording of Exposure began; it was released in 1979.
The talents and stories connected with that record must surely be many, but last night, I was in a position to ask Mr. Fripp a question that I have long thought about: What influence, if any, did the city of New York have on the title track of Exposure? Not its musical culture, but the city itself: its economic condition, its politics, its housing, its advertisements, crime, speech patterns, transportation, weather etc.
I was at the Magic Bag in Ferndale Michigan, as were Mr. Fripp and Mr. Singleton, his manager. They were there to answer questions from the audience. Two months earlier, I had sent postcards regarding the possibility of speaking with Mr. Fripp about his time in Hell’s Kitchen (in Manhattan), which is where he lived during the creation of Exposure. To my surprise, there was a very kind reply explaining why an interview was not possible.
Mr. Fripp and Mr. Singleton had been in NYC during September, and so was I. Their tour, called An Evening With That Awful Man & His Manager included a September 30th appearance at The City Winery. After much thought, I decided not to go; my question remained burning.
I should mention that I have written books and articles and the interview would have, hopefully, resulted in a text of some kind.
Perhaps more importantly, I should also mention that when my partner and I began our relationship with Augmented Reality, I started my every computer session by listening to Exposure. Due to our impoverished digital nomad lifestyle, I listened to Exposure on the always-different headphones I used in game centers, internet cafes, and in the lobbies of hostels and very cheap hotels across Southeast Asia: Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Cameron Highlands, Ipoh, Jakarta, Bangkok, Chiang Rai and other locations. Exposure was fuel, Exposure was Hope.
The crowd at the Magic Bag was composed of very dedicated fans, except for it seems, one woman. While waiting outside for the doors to open, she freely admitted to not knowing what the event was about. The first question of the night was hers, as Mr. Fripp gave women the priority to ask questions. The woman’s question was about the possibility of some sort of activity on the tour bus, which the happily married Mr. Fripp pleasantly brushed off.
With mixed feelings I decided not to ask my question. The questions of the others felt as if they were more burning than mine. And, bits of information about Exposure had surfaced, as questions about Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall and Brian Eno revealed connections. Mr. Fripp spoke briefly but with great strength about John G. Bennett, who is responsible for Exposure’s “impossible” quote.
Mr. Fripp made his thoughts on photography and photographers quite clear. I shared most of his views, though he mentioned not the similarities between artists who record sound, artists who record motion, and those artists who record light.
I was relieved that I had not brought my large camera.
Videos were shown.
Before I left Toledo for Detroit, I had a feeling that my question would likely be not answered. I felt a pressure to justify the trip. GeoPose AR then came to mind. The Magic Bag hosts concerts, talks and magic shows: perhaps at a later date I could give a presentation about AR. I quickly prepared a document. I learned that Tim is the manager of the Magic Bag, but I did not seek him out to present him with this:
I accomplished a few tests while waiting for the doors to open.
As I drove back to Toledo, I thought of the event, and its most memorable occurrence: Humanity, in a sacred space.
And, I wondered if I had been photographed by That Awful Man; if Robert Fripp had, in fact, captured me with an exposure.