The accompanying soundscape here consists of recordings I made at various sites on the Delaware River together with a transformed sounding of Pauline Oliveros' poem Humayun's Tomb, which is about the mind of sound. The text was processed using granular synthesis and "folded" into river sounds to make a somewhat human-sounding voice seem like another of the river's many complex voices. Various masks function as guides along this sonic journey into the intelligence of River and Sound itself. (c. 45')
from Humayun's Tomb by Pauline Oliveros
INSIDE SOUND OUTSIDE SOUND
OUTSIDE SOUND INSIDE SOUND
OUTSIDE SOUND INSIDE SOUND
full text published in Roots of the Moment by Pauline Oliveros Drogue Press, New York, 1998
I am an unabashed animist. I believe that everything is infused with spirit. There is intelligence at the heart of all matter. Human intelligence is just one peculiar manifestation of this larger ground of being. Other manifestations are radically different, incomprehensible to conventional human sensibilities. Yet all things give voice to the underlying cohering essence, the spirit swirling through cells, molecules, atoms, quarks and superstrings. If we listen carefully we can resonate along with these primary vibrations and receive information, knowledge, altered understanding.
This has been the thrust of the teaching by the Singing Masks that I have been making and employing in ceremonial/performances over the past twenty years. Their voices and iconographic presences have been continual reminders of connection with that animistic sense of spirit essence in rivers, rocks, sky, trees, as well as among all things animate. They have become guides in all my work into shifting perspectives, into experiencing everything as holy (Blake), into mythic and oneiric reality.
The ceremonial/performance pieces inspired by the Singing Masks are not entertainments in a traditional sense. They are not music, theater or dance meant to tell a story or lead one along a preconceived path. They are more often invitations to dive into ineffable richness and chaos even, to discover and explore
I incorporate state-of-the-art computer technology to loop and pitch-shift the voices of the masks in real-time. I do not hide the technology. Neither do I make much effort to gloss over the sometimes awkward gestures needed to control the devices in my near-blind masked condition. I have an interest in the convergence of the primal and the present, the sacred and the mundane. In the Dream Time presence of the masks, even the most trivial occurrence may be recognized as having its own kind of perfection and beauty.
So how might you approach experiencing the Singing Masks? First of all, you are free to discover your own unique and individual way. I suggest some possibilities here just to nudge us away from habits induced by traditional concert and media formats:
1) Look at a mask for a moment then close your eyes and listen with the image of the mask retained by your inner eye. 2) Squint to defocus your vision while you are listening. What is the aural equivalent of squinting to defocus your listening? 3) Drift off into dreamland. Sleep, though attempt to be aware that you are sleeping and dreaming. 4) Apply no labels. Make no judgments. Or apply labels and judgments, then drop them immediately. 5) Be aware of the passage of time, yet also perceive timelessness. 6) Listen as if you're tuning in to multiple foreign language radio stations. Listen for nuances of timbre, pitch inflection, and rhythm. Go for the sensuousness of the sound rather than the sense of the words. 7) Dream some more.