installation announcement

Venue: Cirkulacija 2, Podohod Ajdovščina
Opening: Monday, 30 September 2024, 20:00
Date: 1 – 4 October 2024, 16:00 – 20:00
Performance: 1 – 4 October 2024, at 20:00

deep time > shamanism / becoming animal > low-frequency vibrations > olfactory perception

In deep time, the Earth was exclusively a geophonic instrument. For more than nine-tenths of its history, spanning hundreds of millions of years, it was devoid of creatures who communicated with sound. Animals communicated by sight, signals, touch, and smell (chemicals). According to the fossil record, the ancestor of tree crickets (crickets, cicadas, and other insects) was one of the earliest singers, which existed 270 million years ago. They communicated through sound waves transmitted via wood or leaves by vibrating organs in their bodies. We, the animals, still communicate today by creating drumming rhythms by beating on drums and vegetation. In the accelerated time loop, we are at a point of deciphering the meaning of non-human languages. Using machine learning, AI maps languages as graphical networks of interrelationships rather than translating individual concepts. For example, graphical representation has been used to discover that whales use phatic phrases and bear personal names, and that bats often have gourmet conversations. Researchers into non-human languages are also concerned about the possibility of communicating with other-than-human species before understanding the complexities of their cultures. Communicating with them must be subject to even higher ethical standards of non-interference than those applied in anthropology today, as we have learned from the tragic history of colonialism.

In this performative installation, I want to explore how we can understand non-human culture and “become an animal” without colonising them and violating their autonomy. Ethnoecologists suggest that the low-frequency shamanic drumming, which travels quite far due to the physical characteristic of long waves, was intended to do just that: to communicate with the environment in a non-intrusive way and to interact with each other without direct intervention. David Abram, in his poetic and somewhat esoteric “Becoming Animal”, proposes an earthly cosmology that goes beyond the idea of the mind as a self-contained space in our minds. Thoughts are therefore not produced by the individual mind alone but are the result of multi-sensory perception and connection with the environment. Communication with non-human animals can be achieved through the intelligence of the body and the senses, even without intelligent technology. The performance unfolds as a search for less intrusive ways of communicating through the cultivation of a non-anthropocentric view and animal-oriented mythologies, in which the animals do not personify human qualities but we try to animate/animate ourselves. Furthermore, artistic actions often neglect olfactory perception. The element of smell in the installation contributes to the non-metaphorical and non-representational repetition of the sound organ of the cicadas and their habitat. At the same time, it contributes to non-logical/non-rational corporeal thinking.

The vocal organ (timbal) of the cicadas (the first singers) is disembodied in the form of many drums. The reproduction of a natural phenomenon with altered size and proportions is not metaphorical. The reason for the enlargement of the organ is the adaptation/conversion of the organ to human proportions.

Setup

• The drum frame is constructed of mycelium brick material. The technology of using mycelia bricks is not new, but unfortunately, it is still incomparably less widespread than plastics and other component materials.
• Bellows are made of canvas or waxed cotton. The reduced use of materials based solely on extractivism is very significant.
• Floor is covered with thick pine needle layers to emit a strong resinous fragrance.
• Drums are inflating and emit a muffled low-frequency sound.
• Percussion sequence follows the analysis of a rhythmic sequence of a field recording of cicadas.
• Live music sequence is based on an acoustic interpretation of the rhythms from the field recordings. In doing so, it reproduces fūdo ‘wind and earth’ according to philosopher Watsuji Tetsurō who suggests all cultural manifestations are an interplay of environmental conditions.

Concept and realisation: Ida Hiršenfelder
Mycology adviser: Primož Turnšek
Video: Urša Rahne
Electronics and mechanics: Dmitriy Morozov

Supported by the Ministry for Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the City of Ljubljana – Department for Culture

“Under Pine Trees” is based on the “Translating Critters” workshop, at the Piet Zwart Institute (2022) as an offshoot of the Empathetic Atmosphere research on an emotional connection to geophonic entities through immersive sound. The multi-sensory installation will be the third in a series in which I explore the relationship between empathic sonority, immersive bodily perception and acoustic ecology, following “Hyperthermia” (2023) and “Spiral Oscillations” (2024). An extension of the installation “Under Pine Trees” were two sound walks from the “Translating Critters” series, the Under Beech Trees (Jazz Cerkno, 2024) and Under Maple Trees (niansa, 2024). This installation is a continuation of the exploration of the elemental kinship between the human body and the breathing Earth, which I began with the ambisonic compositions “Voluminous Movement of the Watery Earth” and “Wind Will Blow Us Away“.