Sound + Future - Pratyay Raha
The concepts discussed by Timothy Morton in his book 'Dark Ecology' has inspired me to think deeply in directions that have fascinated me since my teenage days. The sense of space is critical here. Secondly, the actions that have become almost a cult statement for tourists around the world is affecting and impacting the natural environment in myriad dimensions.
Timothy Morton mentions, "It is space that has turned out to be the anthropocentric concept, now that we are able to think it without a myth of constant presence. Celebrations of deracination and nostalgia for the old ways are both fictional. It is as obvious to any indigenous culture as it now is to anyone with data sets about global warming that these were stories white Westerners were telling themselves, two sides of the same story in fact. The ecological era is the revenge of place, but it’s not your grandfather’s place. This isn’t some organic village we find ourselves in, nor indeed a city-state surrounded by fields."
A very powerful marker of this understanding is the sound of a place. Every moment a natural environment sound is being masked by a sound generated by anthropogenic activities. Recently I visited a hill station in the Western Ghats (India) and observed this phenomena very closely. The bird songs were being continuously masked by high decibel sounds of car, truck and bus engines.
There are also sounds which we are not equipped to listen to. Numerous sounds happen continuously in the infrasonic and ultrasonic frequency ranges. What universe are they creating? How is the communication system designed in that universe? Is global warming just a one dimensional process? How do we judge life forms which we cannot see or hear? Are we prepared enough to guide and direct our attention to research and communication regarding these life forms? The problem is humans are only interested in the exoticism of travel. The apparently beautiful part of a place. On the other hand, that so called beauty may be a rapidly changed and adapted land use technique to create monoculture cultivation. Also, I feel there is an abundance of activities. There is so much to do that it leaves very little or no space for reflection or silence. It is almost a socio-cultural norm now to continuously take pictures at a particular location during the travel even if we know that those pictures will go to the trash folder after a year. Again a loop of excess responses to external stimuli is formed which leads us to anxiety and stress.
There is no space for stillness. In John Cage's 'Lecture on Nothing', he starts by saying, "I am here and there is nothing to say. If among you are those who wish to get somewhere, let them leave at any moment"
How do we think of a place and nothingness?