Silence as a point of departure
An installation— projected images, light, sound environment, incense.
Encompassing 10 years of creative work. It evolved from an invitation to collaborate by Pilar Tomás, then director of the Semana de Música Religiosa in Cuenca, Spain. It is a classical music festival, the oldest of its kind in Europe. The opening of Silence as a point of departure initiated the 2010 edition of the festival at large, the participation of Peter Greenaway closed it, with a masterful documentary named The Marriage (inspired by the painting The Wedding at Cana, by Paolo Veronese).
The installation, sponsored by the Fundación Antonio Saura, included three projectors, 120 images, the video Mountain breath and Aural path, a sound space composed for the project (links to these pieces are included below). The venue where it was set up is the nave of a XVII Century de-sacralized church, part of the Ex-convento de las Angélicas.
When I was invited to do this project and saw the beautiful space it would occupy, it became clear I needed to do something ex profeso. In a very organic way, the idea of using sound came about, for the first time used in combination with my imagery.
The acoustic exploration started with the idea of depicting an internal space through the use of a sound environment. Half way through the assembly process, I realized that the piece was a metaphor for the experience of sitting meditation. When you seek mental silence you will probably encounter multiple elements before you get anywhere close to the absence of mental "noise". This multitude of voices and messages the mind produces (responses to stimuli from external and internal sources, as well as your own body's signals, memories and associations) — becomes dramatically apparent as you watch the breath, like a parade of "stuff"; triggered by your beliefs, experiences, expectations, concerns, fears, desires, etc.
Eventually, gaps of mental silence start appearing, to be dispelled by new distractions that come into your mental space. The idea is to "smilingly" (as S.N. Goenka says), set those aside and go back to the breath. Similarly, in Aural path, there are some constant elements and a few occasional events, a bell, voices and a boy singing; all being used for their metaphoric (and perhaps visual) value. The result is an acoustical environment that transmits my interpretation of the space I describe above.