Miguel Isaza
Friday 15 July 2016
Ethereal Fortore, Day 3: Collective listening and invisible cardellini

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Being a strange in a land that others known so well generates a special exchange because elements of everyday life that we tend to take for granted, turn on to be routes to the discovery and surprise. A picture in a bar, the taste of coffee, how the birds proceed in the morning, how people greet each other, many elements that invade our walk; every second, live experiences that we tend to refer to normality and repetitiousness, sometimes without realising that in the wheel of apparent monotony is always the fire of the new, right in the present moment. More than merely recording, it is therefore interesting to share recordings with those who listen to this place daily. It’s fascinating to sit in the bar with the locals and share some sounds. Several of them are very curious and when they ask me about my work, usually do not understand it at all until I stop my verbal attempts and go straight to the recorded material. Taking the device, sharing them the headphones and inviting them to hear the day’s catch, shows new possibilities in each one’s daily listening and also expands the recording itself, adding an unexpected dimension to it, as it is enriched by the reactions of others, where listening is actually constructed as a constant relationship, a collective manifestation where the recorded deepens with each listen.

Although in theory we are in summer and previous days have been filled with intense sunlight, the atmosphere was cooled today and rain visited us for hours. In the morning I visited the cozy San Marco dei Cavoti and the city of Benevento with María, Eva and Ludovico, three Liminaria team members who have welcomed me like a family member. Gradually we have been weaving some conversation routes and have helped me to understand a little more closely who is the beautiful process behind Liminaria, plus allowing me to learn directly from people who, although influenced by the contemporary and technological way of living, remain faithful to a rural spirit, as reflected in their honest looks and unparalleled warmth, and of course, a very attentive listening somehow able to decode my strange combinations of Spanish and Italian. And like the silence before and after a piano note, visiting Benevento made Ginestra’s calm more intense, but also showed how silence remains even in noisy places. Stillness and peaceful atmospheres does not seem to be exclusive of certain territories but just more obvious, although always present on listening.

Today I continued my reflection towards air, meditating about some recorded elements and planning ways to explore the manifestation of the wind. It is also a technical challenge because the microphones are quite sensitive to wind and some of the most incredible wind spaces, are impossible for getting non-distorted recordings, but it’s part of wind’s instinct I guess. In addition, today’s blizzards have come with rain, making it even more difficult task for the recorder, but not for the listening, as it doesn’t need protection from the wind nor gets distorted when sinking into the ocean of air, today impregnated of aqueous textures. Air conditions animal activity deeply, but particularly with birds, it reveals a great encounter of the aeolian and the sonic. I have been recorded a lot of these, many without even seeing them. When listening, I don’t really know what they are and a sensorial paradox is revealed to me because the invisibility of its manifestation reinforces the acousmatic rejection of sounds as products. Not only are songs of birds flying in the air, but also sonic beings flying over the ether without wings, result of a parallel experience in which matter is deeply intertwined and related to listening immateriality, the latter also being able to reveal its own sector of the universe. It does not seem by so logical therefore speak of birdsong, because in listening many times it seems that birds are not pets singing, but sonic beings alive in a conscious field which is not limited by matter. An example of this is a special situation I managed to witness: the meeting of a flock of goldfinches (cardellini in Italian) that, at sunset, after a hyperbolic dances in the air, gather between trees and sonic scenarios. Visually there is almost nothing to see from these little friends, because they are hidden between dense and high branches, but the sonic field brings a sublime manifestation that made me think about a conception of biophony, not as “the sound made by the living” but also “the life arising from the sonic”. The most immediate idea when approaching to this recording is to think that it is made of hundreds of birds flying in the air and there eventually spreading homogeneous series of acoustic events. However, on listening worlds, it also speaks of sonorous beings that cross the heterogeneous ether, where not wings nor beaks can be seen, and where biology does not exist in the way we understand it, because matter yields to a cosmic manifestation of aurality where the bird and its song, are one, without hierarchies.

Attentive and prolonged listening to such demonstrations reveal the sacred in the simplest, the eternal in nature. Impossible to not going back to my ancestors, indigenous grandparents who know that in that faint “chanting”, the whole universe rests. Birds are truly magical beings which, after all, reject any explanations and any strange philosophies, hypnotizing the ears and sending them to the raw manifestation of purity, as some kind of haiku. Within these relationships, animals reveal mysticism as an innate anthropological dimension, present in everything that exists, which requires neither temples nor spellbound metaphysical situations to allow transcendence. It is rather the possibility of abandoning the idea of matter as the support of reality to search based on a balanced relationship with the immaterial. Meeting these flying beings in invisible worlds is a proper situation to raise, from the empirical, the idea of an ethereal rurality and an acousmatic ecology, which not merely appreciates the sound of the world but, above all, the world of sound, therefore, not just worrying about the contexts or spaces in which we find sounds, but also those universes living in the most basic listening experience, simple yet infinite, like a flock of goldfinches.