Small Silence undertakes a variety of practice-based research, exploring contemplative arts process with an eye to developing practices that promote wellbeing.
small silence creative writing sound-art-walk (July 2019)
Sweeping as Contemplation
Richard Bentley 2019
Through repeated listening, sound recording and exploration of experience, this project probes the simple act of sweeping. It is the mundane, everyday tasks and their associated sounds that are of interest. This is partly because their cultural and communal significance is often overlooked. But, it is mostly because ordinariness is in abundance, offering repeated opportunities to experience meaning, directly and intuitively. The work-in-progress was presented with other sound artists from across the globe at the Open Call presentations in July. To learn more about the work visit the Sound Diaries website here.
As I sweep, I gather dust and dirt, along with memories, imaginings and small achievements. I listen to the sound of the brush swish, knock on the skirting, reverberate around the room. The qualities of the sound expose my tension, intention and inattention. With the house empty, sweeping is a private recital. The performance is well-rehearsed, typically embodying a long history of forgetfulness, rounds of triumph and certain defeat and the surfacing of memories and plans from the dirt of the mind. At times, it can be other; a free improvisation, a connection to home, a disclosure of meaning.
Occasionally it is just sweeping.
Soundscapes of Meditation
A series of sound diaries exploring the soundscapes of formal meditation, examining both locations expressly set aside for meditation such as priories, chapels and quiet rooms, as well as the ‘quiet spaces’ chosen by practitioners such as urban parks, peaceful rural locations or spaces set-aside in a home. Each journal entry is published on the Sound Diaries website run by members of the Sonic Art Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University. A soundmap of the locations visited can be found on Radio Aporee.
The recordings in this series capture the sound of walking meditations in a variety of environments. The intentions of this project are twofold. Firstly, to use footsteps as a focus for auditory attention, to simply hear afresh the sounds of walking or to notice their inaudibility. Like many other naturally occurring rhythmic or repetitive sounds, footsteps provide interest through both shifts in cadence and timbre, and their interaction with the acoustic environment. The sound of footsteps can provide feedback about our environment, our body and our state of being in the world. If we are feeling distracted and scattered, the sounds of walking can anchor us more firmly to the present moment. My second intention, is to use the sound of slow walking to play with attention and perspective, developing listening exercises that employ field recording, imaginative role play, games and specific auditory cues to engage the interest of practitioners and help them return to what is present. Listen to some of the recordings on Radio Aporee here.