Absorb is a series of scores by Canadian composer Tina Pearson, created for an audiovisual installation commissioned by Media Net (Victoria, Canada) for its Interchange Digital Arts Symposium October 7 – 15, 2016. The scores were realized by Pearson with Victoria-based dancer Lori Hamar and videographer Kirk Schwartz, and also by sonic contributors from various locations in Canada, the US and Europe.
Tree Sing (for vocalists and dancers)
Carried on Your Winds (for breath)
Flowing on Your Tongues (for voice)
Disturbances on Water (for camera – still or moving)
Absorb is an attempt to reconcile an essence of presence in the seemingly disconnected realms of technology and the biosphere. The project’s intention and scores pose a set of questions about intimacy, memory and artistic responses within ecosystems, and how those responses might be alternately exposed and informed by the tethering of their representation within digital media.
I experience both enthralment and trepidation as a daily witness to the fundamental and continuos change in my physical being, my perceptions, and my understanding of reality as a direct result of my active and passive participation in digital and networked technologies. I’m a hybrid being. In my imagination, I recall the sensation of my bare toes grasping at the mossy root of a tall red cedar, releasing a rich dusky smell, while my fingers quickly type commands for an online “virtual reality” telematic performance; my eyes get help with glass prisms to focus on the computer screen showing movements of my oversees colleagues’ virtual avatars; and my ears, swimming in the blur of our combined electronic sounds humming through the speakers, perk up suddenly to zoom their focus far far out and up toward the cacophony, about 100 yards beyond my window, of the local crows returning from the shore to their night time roost.
My body can be here, while another aspect of my presence can be there. I, as an essence, can be present in multiple “theres” at once. And in telematic practice, without the complex interface of the body, aspects of presence’s non-body essence can become honed, clear and sophisticated.
(photos above: stills from video shot by Kirk Schwartz)
Absorb hypothesizes that, if non-body presence is being pulled and projecting itself into more and more of these other “theres” made possible by networked technologies, is it possible to similarly experience and perceive a non-body presence of essence inside elements of the biosphere? Is it possible for the essence of a focused listening and sensing practiced by artists to be pulled into an ecosystem? What would it look like and sound like if its trees, waters and winds have absorbed the essential sounds, smells, movements, the essential mind of an acutely listening and sensing human presence?
Absorb considers a possible biospheric reality where a human presence exists only in the memory of a remaining human-less environment: Humans and their materials and machines no longer exist. Absorb imagines the fragmented ghostly traces of human breath, voice, language and gesture that might linger in a post-human ecosystem, and how these archives of a human essence might be revealed in the cells of a tree’s bark, the way a branch moves in the wind, how a shoreline wave reflects the light of the sun.
Absorb was created through biospheric performance scores that merge techniques of deep and hyper listening and sensing; and body-based and telematic performance practice. The score Tree Sing was realized by dancer Lori Hamar and vocalist Tina Pearson in a rainforest at the base of PKOLS mountain in Coast Salish territory (Saanich, BC), with video filming by Kirk Schwartz. Invited artists from Canada, the United States and Europe used the scores Carried on Your Winds and Flowing on Your Tongues to participate remotely by recording their breath and voice for two other threads in the work, which were edited and processed into longform sonic installation pieces. And a score for photography and videography, Disturbances on Water, was realized by Kirk Schwartz, and edited for large scale video projection.
These hyper sensing techniques were used in the research, field work, and audio, video and photo documentation of the piece, which include study of water surfaces and water bodies; and cedar and pine trees, with and without disturbance-interaction by performers, in additional ecosystems of the unceded Coast Salish territory area of the Pacific coast.
Elements of the work were further processed and fragmented into the virtual networked platform Second Life, where a rendering of Absorb exists as artifact and transposed reality: constructed echoes of an imagined absorbed presence are revealed visually and sonically as layered and fractured digital archives of this material, filtered into a virtual reality space that has no geographic location, no smells, no biospheric sounds, no movements but digitally created ones.
Absorb was commissioned through the BC Arts Council by the Victoria, BC centre Media Net, as part of its Digital Arts Symposium October 7 through 15, 2016 at the Flux Gallery.