Photo by Nia Emmanouil
Below are two variations of the collaboration with Nia, rendered from the indeterminate composition.
20-22nd April 2013
Beautiful Ash and Ruins
An improvisation by Nia Emmanouil
This piece created in Ludmilla - 21/4/13
Samples: Christopher Roberts qin, Dan Thorpe piano
Nia speaks about her inspiration for some of these recordings in her own blog here, and again about our time traveling and making music together.
My sense of the place:
This trip is the real beginning of In Sound Surrounds, a project of exploration, improvisation, collaboration, and place that I'm sure will resonate through the rest of my life.
This is the perfect place to start - the physical atmosphere created by the humidity in Darwin is so thick you can't miss it - as an outsider I feel immediately in it as soon as I step out of the airport. Though somehow, despite the abundant moisture of the air, the natural environment remains harsh, red-ochre, and craggy. This is tropical air colliding with desert.
It resonates with such abused cruelty that who knows how it's meant to be?
How does it sound? As in, "the bell sounded out across the valley."
In all ways, to the soul and all senses, how does it make its resonating cry? From its seed through its resonant space...
I don't know what I'm doing here, why I'm traveling, what my purpose is. But here I am, bewildered in the wilderness. Even as the tropical air on a desert coast. I'm reminded of The Glass Bead Game once again, "Understanding nothing, divining everything" and of Twin Peaks, "You have all the clues you need."
At Tolmer Falls we lay on rocks in the river, the water flowed over us, and, a few metres ahead, cascaded over the falls.
Down below, it streamed past a boulder and under a grand high arch of rock, reminiscent of great still places painted by Thomas Cole, but bright and dry.
We lay in the river on the rocks, with water flowing over us, for a long time,
Talking or resting.
When I was standing on the rocks, a golden-winged dragonfly hovered and perched on a leaf, near me for a long time.
When I was in the water a blue dragonfly hovered close.
A lizard perched on a rock in the middle of the river, then swam away, its tail snaking down through the water.
A leaf floated to me under the clear water. It looked like a mask. The warping lines of focused light through the lenses of the surface of the water streaked across the face of the leaf mask as it slowly turned through the water, under the surface.
I plucked the leaf out and looked. Without the light shearing through, the ripples dancing across its face, it seemed lifeless.
I put it under the surface, and it was magically animated once again.
The rocks were hot, so I danced over them.
We lay in the river for a long time, with water flowing over.
Photos by myself and Nia Emmanouil
At some point on the journey Nia asked me in a very direct and arresting way:
"What does place mean to you?"
I answered that I generally considered that if time doesn't exist, then neither does place - but I acknowledged that I'm not satisfied with this answer.
As far as how one environment can be so infused with life, and another be so dormant (the abundant diversity of wildlife in apparent in Darwin as compared to Adelaide for example), or how a place can be felt to be genuinely sacred - I do not know.
If the physical world is an illusion, I don't know how these things can be true. I spent so much time chasing the source of the illusion in the abstract, but perhaps it is in the essence of the diversity of a place that the illusion really unravels, that reality is revealed through the hyper-reality of the illusion of the real world - when it suddenly seems so real, that it no longer can be.
This is tied with stories Nia has told me about the Dreaming being not an ancient thing, but always now, always evolving and something we're all part of. The magic that happens in knowing place, being with place, being aware of the field in which you are living and are a living part - the life-world of the organism.
Nia told me a story about a particular river that flows in so suddenly on a new moon, that a person can literally ride it as it fills, and it is like the man entering the woman.
There has been much talk of the female aspect of places we've visited. Images and formations in the land of the female being open, and suggesting to me this first trip on my journey is a birth into a new phase.