>> Immaterial Development : Passive Listening to Awakened Listening
In considering the immaterial elements' influence in spatial experience, as seen in Immaterial Investigation : DarkLight, I come to spend some time with the audible. I have begun to listen more than ever before – my ears have re-awakened after years of passively listening. I realize I had been numb to the audible world around me!
By research, I discovered that through evolution, the human mind developed to essentially ignore 80% of the audible surroundings at any given moment – allowing the brain to focus on that immediate 20%. This means our fight-flight-freeze instinct does not become over-stimulated. Perhaps we would never eventually become the focused workaholics of today without this development. But yet, I still can’t shake the curiosity that there is something worthy of our attention in the periphery.
Through my ears, I began to re-understand the world around me. Kind of ironically, in earlier education, my secondary institution was for musically talented youth. I was not so interested in this, as I was more engaged and ignited with visual arts, and took this path in my further studies. Later, I eventually did uncover my love for creating soundscapes, and the questions that come by diving deeper than the conventional music stave and score (which perhaps is seen in the development of my Notations of Spatial Experience).
The further I go in listening, the more I notice how much of it we take for granted. Conventional music has us spoiled with 'perfect' tones, and we deem anything else 'bad' or 'just noise'. I want us to question this notion, and consider if the staves and scales we are so used to are sterilising our taste, or numbing our understanding.
I then trained for performing arts with differing methods and approaches. I discovered many breathing techniques that prepare the self and the body for performance and practice. Most of these techniques are of ayurvedic or yogic origin – used to oxygenize the body, awaken the mind and connect with the self by the present moment. I believe this is an important ingredient in my practice, and I really enjoy to develop this methodology of Deep Spatial Listening - by it, I find great spatial sensitivity, and I am deeply inspired by this innate sense of presence and awareness that comes with listening openly to a space. It is as though the ears become the whole self. As spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle aptly writes :
"When listening (to another person), don't just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen. That takes attention away from thinking and creates a still space that enables you to truly listen without the mind interfering. You are giving (the other person) space - space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give. Most people don't know how to listen because the major part of their attention is taken up by thinking... At the deepest level of Being, you are one with all that is." (The Power of Now, 1999)
• Note on Silence
Naturally, to consider the audible, and what is around it, silence is inevitable.
And by the method detailed next, it becomes evident that what is not heard is just as powerful and important as what is. This idea - of what is and what is not - permeates my considerations of the physical space: I come to think that what is not there is as important as what is. The periphery comes to include the 'nothingness' - the immaterial becomes a further valid investigation.
As Tolle again suggests -
"Just as sound can exist without silence, nothing can exist without no-thing, without the empty space that enables it to be. Every physical object or body has come out of nothing... What is more, even inside every atom there is mostly empty space. What is left is more like a vibrational frequency than particles of solid matter, more like a musical note. Buddhists have known that for over 2,500 years. 'Form is emptiness, emptiness is form'... The Unmanifested is not only present in this world as silence; it also pervades the entire physical universe as space - from within and without. This is just as easy to miss as silence. Everybody pays attention to the things in space, but who pays attention to the space itself?" (The Power of Now, 1999)
I dare to answer Tolle here and say - Scenographers! We pay attention to the space itself!