Tuesday, October 25, 2011

: How do we resonate off space

v. res·o·nat·ed, res·o·nat·ing, res·o·nates
1. To exhibit or produce resonance or resonant effects.
2. To evoke a feeling of shared emotion or belief.
3. To correspond closely or harmoniously.
4. To cause to resound.
5. To amplify vocal sound by the sympathetic vibration of air in certain cavities and structures.

In search of spaces with resonance, I went up north to visit the Chambered Cairns of Orkney. The Cairns were anciently used as burial chambers and played a central part to the organisation of Orcadian society in the Neolithic ages. They are among some of the oldest structures in Scotland, dating back to 3,500 BC, which takes us to the very beginnings of organized civilization. The tombs became monuments dedicated to ‘being’, in which the living and the dead could communicate with one another. Within these sacred spaces are hidden layers of past human interaction, where we can find invisible traces of resonance that have been left for us to rediscover…
 Within the chambers, I was interested in investigating how humanity can physically resonate off space and how the places that we inhabit are connected to the way we live. I was specifically interested in revealing the archaeoacoustics of these unique places and to see for myself how I could change their resonance with my own presence. The chambers have witnessed many different cycles of humanity and their very walls hold the secrets to how we have existed within them. For this trip I planned to visit the chambers and to record a series of vocal experiments inside them as a way to investigate how space can affect us whilst projecting into it. Within this dialogue I wanted to ask how do we as humans resonate off space and how does space itself resonate off us? 
 On my journey up there I started to become very aware that the further I went up north, the presence of the landscape changed. I felt the more remote I got the more it emerged that the land stood by itself, as its own body. It felt like the landscape knew itself, like it had a sense of its own identity. The fact that it has hardly been touched by the modern world or human society shows just how much a naked landscape can hold. It was its isolation that created this very mystical and wise presence and it made me think about just how much our landscapes can resonate as their own identities and how their presence affects the way we live around them.
 When I arrived in Orkney I realised just how detached it feels from the external world, it is in many ways like its own world. Orkney’s ritual landscapes are covered in spaces full of sacred energies and the tombs themselves resonate within the landscape; they are monuments that show our human interaction to the cycles of nature. The tombs themselves pay homage to how much we used to be connected to our lands and how the cycle of life was at the fore front of our culture and understanding of the world. I thought it would be interesting on this trip to compare the past interaction with the Cairns to my present interaction, and to create a form of dialogue between the present and past worlds concealed within the tombs. This I felt would help me to understand exactly how the spaces existed then, and how the spaces existed presently. My question was, would it still be possible to continue to add layers to these spaces through out the history of their existence?
Entering the tombs felt like entering worlds left behind from many civilizations ago, they were full of invisible traces of human activity. In many ways it was like entering the past and existing within a virtual dimension of time, yet within a physical space. I loved that in the tombs you could find carvings from every different civilization that had visited them; they had left messages speaking of their journeys and lives. Their resonance in the spaces have affected the way that we perceive and understand them today, they give clues and marks that allow us to imagine how once we lived inside them. 
As I entered the first chambered Cairn, I realised just how much these spaces resonate as part of our human culture and landscape. The Maeshowe Chambered Cairn was like entering a resonating chamber; the stone gave the space a wonderful depth, like an echo from ancestors of many years before us living in the shadows of the spaces that we presently inhabited. The acoustics in the chamber were phenomenal; it was when inside the chamber that you could truly appreciate just how old the tombs where and how their presence has evolved through the humans that have inhabited it. In Maeshowe I recorded two pieces of sound, one in the main chamber and another in one of the smaller side chambers. The pieces unfolded as a series of improvised songs, where I looked into the space to find inspiration for my projections. It was my aural presence in the space that allowed me to engage with it as a surface to project within and where my voice began to exist in another body, the body of the chamber. 
 My most overwhelming experience on this trip was in fact not in a chambered Cairn, but in an old chapel built by the Italian soldiers stationed in Orkney in World War II. The prisoners created the chapel as a tribute to their homelands and as a way to unite their stay in this unknown land to their religious faith as a sanctuary for their souls. So because of this legacy, a part of Italy’s religious culture resonates through out the isles of Orkney. It was in this very strange space, and one that brought two worlds together where I encountered my most powerful projection. Within the chapel, the acoustics created a volume within the space that made me experience a very overwhelming sensation, like in some way I was vibrating off the space. My voice allowed me to come out of the physical dimension of my own body and for my energy to penetrate the space. It was within this projection that I felt like something was being opened inside me and the tones and the strength in my voice was like no other I had heard or experienced before. It was this performance that made me truly realise just how much a space can affect you and because of this how I could affect and resonate within it.
 The human voice spirals out of the body and penetrates the space, bouncing off the physical walls and coming back into the body. I find singing is like coming out of a physical dimension; it is like an exchange of energy between the space you are projecting into and the body projecting into it. I think that by using the human voice to measure human resonance meant that I could physically appreciate just how much the human body can affect space. In the action of amplifying the voice I felt a great sense of exchanging energies with these spaces, my body as a structure vibrated within the framework of the chambers and they vibrated off me; we filled one another with each others presence.
 It has become very obvious to me, since being and experiencing within these spaces just how much humanity wants to leave a trace behind in the landscapes and spaces we live in. The human resonance is in itself one of the most powerful and visible elements in our landscapes. Spaces echo our past and amplify the people within them, creating this dual discourse where we can affect each other simultaneously. What I realised on my trip in Orkney is just how interconnected we are to the spaces and landscapes that we live in and inhabit. It is like the spaces themselves mirror and resonate our very own nature and it is existing through them that reveals our humanity. We will eternally resonate; it is the very nature of human beings to want to leave an impression on the earth and I think that this will always be present within the way we perceive and exist in the world…

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